How to Get Help With Anxiety

When a close friend who was really struggling asked for my advice on how to get help with anxiety, I really felt her pain...

I'd been through my own struggle with stress and anxiety and even though I don't work with close friends, I wanted to do everything I could to help her...

Help with Anxiety

As a busy executive it was really costing her... And a lot more than just financially... What was most important to her was to stop dreading going to work, to be able to present to colleagues and clients without feeling panicky and tripping over her words, to negotiate without racing thoughts and to sell herself and her company with confidence.

More than that, she wanted to enjoy her family and social life without constantly feeling anxious about what other people thought of her.

She just wanted the whole racing thoughts, pounding heart, sweaty palms and feeling disconnected from other people to stop, so she could perform well in her career and enjoy her family and social life.

I'm going to share with you the answers I gave to her questions, as I believe they will be valuable to any executive or ambitious professional looking for help with anxiety in finding the right person and approach to work with.

To give my answers context, her primary criteria for who she worked with was effectiveness. She just wanted to get it sorted.

Here are the answers I gave to her questions...

Q1. Prescribed medication or non-medicated approach?

Depending on the nature of the anxiety, the first decision is whether to take prescribed medication. Obviously, this is not usually for specific anxieties such as anxiety about presenting, negotiating, etc, but may be something to consider if anxiety is affecting you severely in multiple contexts. 

Your GP is the only person who can advise you on medication, but obvious questions to ask are about addiction, side effects, duration and whether the medication resolves the cause of anxiety or only masks the symptoms.

I get quite a lot of people coming to me who have had bad experiences of medication, or just want to stop taking it, but can't because the anxiety starts again.

She wanted to avoid medication like the plague, so how then can you sort through the largely unregulated coaching and therapy industries to find the right approach and person for you? [read below for answer]

Q2. Group programme or one to one?

Group programmes tend to be cheaper and if you would benefit from speaking to a group of other anxiety suffers about your anxieties and them telling you theirs, then group programmes would tick that box.

The challenge with group programmes is that one size does NOT fit all. In my experience everyone does stress and anxiety in their own way. Unless treatment is specific to the individual, it's just chance if it works. Also, other people's anxious thoughts can trigger ones own anxiety, so group is not for everyone.

One to one programmes can be orientated around you personally and so tend to be much more effective. The higher level of service typically means higher cost.

Q3. What about online programmes / skype for help with anxiety?

An option for extreme cases where you cannot leave the house. See above if it's an online group programme.

One to one over Skype is much better, but lacks the full human connection, which is important in any coaching or therapy for anxiety.

Q4. What else can my GP offer aside from medication?

Clients who have come to me after exploring options with their GP tell me they are offered 8-12 sessions of counselling or CBT. It's free on the NHS, but usually as group sessions or with relatively new therapists / counsellors. Again only your GP can advise you on what's available, waiting lists and how the service is delivered.

For those restricted to low budget or free help, I suggest exploring that option. 

Q5. What are the things to avoid?

  • Generalists who do not have significant experience in specifically helping high performing professionals overcome anxiety. Anxiety can be complex and consistent success requires a detailed and robust knowledge of the many different causes and variations.
  • It turns out one of her friends had been working with a counsellor on overcoming anxiety EVERY WEEK for FOUR YEARS. She had become dependant on the counsellor as an emotional crutch, but had made little progress in resolving the anxiety. The cost of the sessions was really mounting up, but it was costing her a lot more in lost time, lost opportunity and lost quality of life.
  • The inexperienced, amateurs and hobbyists. There's nothing wrong with helping people get a foot up on the  ladder and get some experience. However, the vast majority of people who begin their training as a coach or therapist never make the leap from their day job to full-time practice.
  •  When it comes to anxiety affecting your career and important relationships would you prefer to work with an amateur or an expert?  Most full-time professionals will work normal office hours, so they can balance their career with the needs of their family. Be wary of those who are new, or only offer session times in the evenings, weekends, or holidays from the corporate day job.

Q6. What should I look for?

  • Look for someone who you think you will get along with. Would you prefer to work with someone with a softly, softly, gentle approach, or a more matter of fact direct approach, or somewhere in between?
  • Customer testimonials specifically from other high performing professionals. Look at the type of people they work with, which will indicate whether they will relate well to you.
  • Work with someone who has a business specialising in overcoming anxiety. Get the best you can afford. In the long run (if not short-mid term) it will likely save you a lot of time, money and stress.
  • Look for an approach that looks at your big picture, is progressive and will help you perform well in the situations that are important to you.

I think it's important at this point to be completely transparent and tell you upfront that my answers are a little bit biased (I know that's not a surprise!). They are based on my experience of working with high performing professionals looking for help with anxiety.

For high performers such as executives and athletes, I believe a one-one, results-orientated approach, which not only deals with the symptoms and causes of anxiety, but also trains the individual to perform well in the situations needed is the most suitable approach. Obviously, that's what I've designed my service to deliver.

What kind of help would be right for you?

Coaching for Anxiety in Sport

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TEDx Paul Burden Sport Psychology RHS

Paul Burden MSc

Performance Coach and Anxiety Specialist

With 25 years experience in coaching, Paul’s passion is assisting high performers to overcome setbacks, rise to the challenge and create success where it counts most.

His own experiences of anxiety as a young athlete and during his early business career started his journey into high performance psychology.

This personal experience and passion for helping others is underpinned by training with masters in the fields of coaching, performance psychology and personal development.

He's helped thousands of people overcome fears, control anxieties and perform at their best. 

Overcome Stress & Anxiety Now

TEDx Paul Burden Control Anxiety RHS

Paul Burden MSc 

Performance Coach & Anxiety Specialist

Request your free intro call now. 

We'll talk about what you want to achieve and how I can help. 

Coaching for Anxiety in Sport