World-renowned CBT researcher and OCD expert Prof. Paul Salkovskis once asked therapists attending an OCD workshop to write down: ‘Today my partner (or best friend) will die in a car crash’. Only one third did this – the others changed the wording or said they were unable to do so. Clearly, many of us are prone to superstitious, magical thinking. My latest column explores the issue of thought-action fusion and details some simple exercises to test the power (or lack of power) of your thoughts.
If you’re a socially anxious person, you might dread the idea of socialising, and cope with this anxiety by engaging in what CBT researchers call safety behaviours. Such behaviours - foe example, excessively rehearsing what you will say to a person, avoiding eye contact, wearing cool clothes to avoid blushing - are designed to manage anxiety-provoking situations. It's an understandable strategy, but safety behaviours are not a good idea. My latest column explains why.
Anxiety is a universal human experience, a natural response to stressors and challenges we all encounter in life. While it's a common emotion, it's often misunderstood and can manifest in a variety of ways. My latest Southern Star column explores some important things you should know about anxiety.
Many of us find ourselves occasionally grappling with concerns about our health. Yet, for some, this unease goes beyond sporadic worry; it is a constant, exaggerated fear centred on health. My latest article looks at the obsessive and distressing nature of health anxiety, and talks about how the very things you do to ease your health anxiety - the rumination, the checking, the reassurance-seeking – are the very things keeping you stuck.
The father of CBT, the late Dr Aaron Beck, was fond of saying that ‘there is more to the surface than meets the eye’. What did he mean? Beck liked to illustrate his point by telling a story about an anxious and promiscuous client he was treating. Why was she anxious? Read on...
My last column looked at the power of anticipation, and how looking forward to positive events is a free source of happiness. However, what if you rarely allow yourself to look forward and get excited? Not only that, what if you are more familiar with negative anticipation, and frequently spend days dreading an upcoming event? My latest column looks at why anticipatory anxiety is a bad strategy and why it's like you are "bleeding before you are cut".
Many people are uncomfortable with having mixed feelings, with ambivalence. This is often seen in relationships. A person might say, “I really like my partner but he does some things which really annoy me. I wish I didn’t have these contradictory feelings, maybe he’s not right for me”.
In reality, it's normal to have mixed feelings, whether about your partner, your family, your work, your friends. My latest column explores why it's important to learn to tolerate ambivalence.
Treating anxiety can be reduced to one simple principle: ‘Anxiety is maintained by avoidance, and willing exposure is the active ingredient of recovery. That is essential; all the rest is commentary.’ My latest Southern Star column explores why tackling anxiety means tackling avoidance.
Tackling anxiety means choosing to do some hard things, such as facing feared situations, so you have to be motivated. To get motivated, ask yourself this: what have you lost to anxiety? My latest column looks at some ideas from anxiety expert Dr Jonathan Grayson on how to undertake this vital exercise.