Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety are characterized by intense emotional reactions and panic attacks related to change of physical location. Online Mindfulness Therapy using Skype is an exciting new approach to help people imprisoned by this debilitating form of anxiety. Online Skype Therapy allows people to work on their anxiety in the comfort of their homes and gradually develop the tools that will allow them to venture out and become more confident in themselves so that they can participate and get more enjoyment from life.
On of my online clients, a woman in her late 30s seldom moved out of the safety zone of her home because she was convinced that something terrible would happen and there would be no one there to help her. This sense of intense isolation and fear of being alone is an ironical side to a behavioral disorder that produces just that – isolation and loneliness. Many sufferers from social anxiety have very low self-confidence and even lower self-esteem. They are imprisoned by negative beliefs about themselves in which they are unable to cope with change. Not only change of location, but change of routine or anything, which can be described as the familiar rhythm to their lives.
In terms of the emotional reactivity, those with social anxiety disorders experience what can best be described as an inner contraction of emotional energy. The anxiety contracts and concentrates into a tight focal point, usually centered on a thought or a belief. This of course is the driving emotional energy that can lead to a panic attack, which can be described as an explosion of anxiety, leading to very erratic behavior. This is what many sufferers are most afraid of – this runaway and uncontrollable behavior.
Over the years, I have been studying this contraction process and have found that mindfulness to be extremely effective as an antidote. Mindfulness, by its very nature is an expansion of consciousness and so admirably counteracts the contraction of consciousness associated with emotional reactivity. There are many ways that mindfulness can help with anxiety disorders. The first and most basic skill is simply learning to awaken to the inner reactive thinking as it arises. This simple process of recognition can and does make all the difference. In my book, The Path of Mindfulness Meditation, I describe this as one of the 3 R’s of mindfulness practice: Recognition, Relationship, Resolution. If a person can learn to recognize his habitual reactive thoughts as they arise, then a moment of choice opens up. If he remains blind, then nothing can change.
When the lady mentioned above took on mindfulness training with me, she soon learned to catch these reactive thoughts. Actually, after awhile, it became a game for her and for once in a very long time she felt that she had some control. This is one of the immediate benefits of mindfulness therapy – clients quickly shift out of being the victim to being empowered. For an agoraphobic, this is a revolution.
Instead if being dominated by negative thoughts, she began to see them as nothing more than “objects,” and in fact she imagined them as pebbles on a beach. She could see them as discreet entities and could simply walk around them, pick them up and look at them, but she no longer was compelled to become them. She began to find her true Self again – a Self that was not defined by rock hard thoughts, but was that inquisitive child that could look at these “things” and not be afraid. This is the beginning of the Resolution phase of mindfulness – a release of that contracted energy, a flowering of her true essence as the “knowing” of the contents of her mind – the “known” and the habitual reactivity and resistance to her emotions – “the knower.” Mindfulness allows us to let go of the known and the knower and awaken as the knowing – the pure consciousness of the free mind and heart.
Peter Strong, PhD is a Professional Psychotherapist and specialist in Mindfulness Therapy. He offers Online Counseling via Skype for Anxiety, Depression & Emotional Stress.
Visit http://www.counselingtherapyonline.com. Email Inquiries Welcome.