Addressing Anxiety Through Focus Therapy

Anxiety is usually felt by everyone at least once in their lifetime. However, it is most prevalent in teenagers and adolescents. Those who are coping with anxiety result typically in depression, substance abuse, and alcohol addiction, and emotional and social functioning difficulties. “Anxiety is a reaction to a situation we perceive as stressful or dangerous,” Monique Reynolds, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist.


Where Does Anxiety Come From?

Anxiety does not occur instantly. It is usually a combination of different happenings in an individual’s life. Here are some examples where anxiety starts:


  • Transitioning from a student as a working adult
  • Illness of a person close to him
  • Fear of separation from a partner, friend, or family
  • Problems in school
  • Being bullied


When people experience these kinds of problems, it usually results in anxiety. Some symptoms of anxiety include panic attacks, stomachaches and headaches, being uncomfortable in social situations, and experiencing unwanted thoughts and sensations. “You feel very much the way you do when in a dangerous situation…[but] there’s no real danger there,” clinical psychologist Robert Duff, Ph.D. says. If this happens, your anxiety is not healthy for you.


What Is Focus Therapy And How Can It Help Address Anxiety?

Focus therapy, also called focusing-oriented psychotherapy, is a treatment that deals with clearing emotional blockage through focusing. Focus therapy is an awareness practice that allows an individual to perceive the bodily sensations of his emotion. This way, they can address them.


In the case of anxiety, here are ways focus therapy can help solve it:


  • First, the therapist asks the clients to notice which parts of her body are affected once anxiety is experienced. They may perceive it in their stomachs (whenever they feel that there are butterflies inside), arms and legs (whenever there’s numbness), chest (whenever their heart constricts). In some cases, they may feel it all over their body. This kind of embodied understanding is called “felt senses.”
  • The client is then asked to process the physical sensation bit by bit. They may describe it in detail, attach an image to portray it, or find the right names for appropriate definitions.
  • Once processed, they are then assisted in making deep contact with the feeling of being anxious. Deep contact refers to acknowledging the sources of the anxiety, feeling the pain of these sensations, and identifying the factors that can ease it. This slow journey allows the bodily sensations to naturally shift into a deep inner resolution.


How Is Focus Therapy Different From Other Kinds Of Therapies?

Focus therapy treats the patient as the center. Therapists are only there to guide the clients to process their inner emotions. They do not come up with interpretations of their patient’s feelings or offer advice on how to overcome their problems.


Also, focus therapy does not also adapt the practices of other classic mindfulness approaches. Focus therapy allows the clients to experience the pains in their bodies to resolve it, as compared into acknowledging it and letting it go afterward, which is what a traditional mindfulness practice does.


This kind of approach caters to individuals experiencing darkness in their lives. Their therapists will not be the ones who will direct them to the light. Rather, their respective therapists will be the ones who will hold the lanterns that can serve as their guide into finding their paths to deep inner resolution.

You can also do this at home, as a self-help coping mechanism, before going to therapy. “The other most effective things we can do when we need to calm our nervous systems and our physiological threat response is to calm our breath. Controlled breathing has been shown to activate the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system which can help turn off the threat response,” according to Alicia H. Clark, PsyD.