There is no doubt that anxiety is a major problem in the UK Workplace. According to the National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence, the cost of work related mental illness to industry is £28bn, a massive figure. More than 13 million working days a year are lost because of work related stress, anxiety and depression (NICE, 2009)
Indeed ‘anxiety’ is an issue which clients frequently present at coaching sessions. It is not surprising that it is such a common problem with the many challenges we experience in life; money problems; bringing up children whilst holding down a full time job; losing a job; dealing with illness are just a few. Reflecting on recent traumatic events in the world can leave us all feeling anxious about what could happen next, the “what ifs”.
Anxiety can occur in many forms, some examples are, phobias, (described as a fear of specific things or situations, e.g. spiders, or flying); panic attacks (intense feelings of anxiety where people feel they are about to die); and generalised anxiety, where a mixture of worries and anxiety symptoms are experienced most of the time. Sometimes we use ‘anxiety’ to describe brief periods of nervousness or fear which we experience when faced with difficult experiences.
As Coaching Psychologists, we have worked with a number of clients who have experienced anxiety, in particular, phobias, panic attacks and generalised anxiety to help free them from its constraints. The techniques we use are derived from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT); however, rather than performing ‘therapy’ on clients, we use a form of coaching derived from CBT, Cognitive Behaviour Coaching (CBC).
CBC emphasises that how we react to events is largely determined by our views of them, not by the events themselves (Neenan & Dryden, 2008). In coaching, we work with individuals to examine and re-evaluate some of their less helpful views. We work with individuals to develop and try out alternative viewpoints and behaviours that may be more effective in aiding problem-solving or in approaching challenges from an objective point of view. The approach provides us with greater insight into how underlying emotional factors affect our behaviour. By offering this insight, the aim is to help individuals to change any self-defeating behaviour, thinking, attitudes or beliefs they may hold.
The outcome of our work has been extremely positive, e.g. we worked with a manager who experienced panic attacks every day. They were interfering with his life and his ability to live normally was severely impaired. After working with him using a number of CBC techniques, he reported that he was only experiencing attacks every 2 weeks; after the 3rd session, he experienced them once a month and at the final session they were gone. The sense of freedom reported by this person following the coaching was astounding. He reported that the coaching also helped him decide on his career choices; he has since returned to University and has successfully obtained a job in an organisation which fits with his values.
A client whose husband was relocating to Australia for a career move had a fear of flying. She knew she had to overcome this and had 6 months before they were due to leave. Coaching took place over a six month period, and combined Cognitive Behavioural Coaching with experiments between sessions. These involved taking trips to the airport to see planes, taking a short trip in the UK by plane, and then a longer trip to a European destination. The client was able to take the trip to Australia without a panic attack. She has subsequently taken several flights and is able to enjoy the experience.
Through all of our coaching, we encourage clients to focus on what is going well in their lives and being grateful for what they do have despite their individual challenges. The techniques we use have had an amazing success rate. Shelly Rubinstein, Managing Director of Impact Consulting says, ‘I would encourage anyone who is affected by anxiety to seek this kind of support; it has changed many peoples lives. It is so rewarding to hear of the sense of freedom experienced by clients after this coaching; it really does change people’s lives’.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you beat anxiety, contact [email protected]