Archive | June, 2012

Emotion Blog Series #1: Anxiety and Concern

27 Jun

Anxiety is an unhealthy negative emotion provoked by holding an unhealthy belief or attitude about a real or perceived threat or danger to yourself, or to all that you value as significant to you.

Concern is the healthy version of anxiety.  Concern is a healthy negative emotion provoked by holding a healthy belief or attitude about real or perceived threat or danger to yourself, or to all that you value as significant to you.


Anxiety is an unhealthy negative emotion

You can be anxious or concerned about many things.  Commonly people can be anxious or concerned about:

  • Success and failure
  • Approval
  • Criticism
  • Negative judgement
  • Making mistakes
  • Achievements
  • Anxiety itself
  • Emotional problems
  • Things not be just so i.e. perfectionism
  • Disorganisation
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Death
  • And so on

How do you know if you are anxious or concerned?

When you feel anxious you will tend to exaggerate the overall effect of the threat or risk.  You will think terrible things will happen.  You also think that you won’t be able handle and deal with the bad thing if it was to happen.  For example, you will think that you won’t be able to handle failure.  You will tend to see the glass as half empty so your thoughts will be pessimistic focusing on the negatives.  Your thoughts will also be unhelpful to you and you will not be thinking in a constructive way.

When you are anxious you feel like avoiding and running away from the threat.  So if you are anxious about negative judgement, you may feel like avoiding doing anything that puts you at the risk of being negatively judged.  You will also feel like running away from the threat mentally by, for example, keeping yourself extra busy so you don’t have to think about what you are worried about.  You will also know if you are anxious because you may be doing superstitious things to get rid of what you are anxious about.   When you feel anxious you are more likely to get rid of the feelings by drinking too much, or medicating yourself in other ways.  Another sign of anxiety is assurance seeking, checking and asking people ‘do you think everything will be OK?’

If you are in a state of concern, the healthy version of anxiety, then you will tend to think in a more realistic way, keeping the effect of the danger or threat in perspective and you will have a balanced view about your ability to handle the problem if it was to happen.  You thoughts will be more solution focused and helpful.

In a state of concern you will tend to face what you are concerned about as opposed to avoiding it.  You will not be seeking constant assurance from others.

Think about what you deem as a risk or a threat and work out from the above explanation if you are anxious or concerned about it.

If you deem that you feel anxiety about some threats then mirror the concern attitude and behave in accordance with the behavioural tendencies of concern.  Repeat them until your notice an emotional shift.  This will feel uncomfortable and unusual at first.  This will means making your thinking realistic and letting go of avoidant behaviour.


22 Jun

Over the next few months we will be writing about the different types of emotions we feel and why we feel them.  The explanation will be based on the Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), one of the main schools of cognitive behaviour therapy. 

REBT posits it is not the event, but the belief or view you hold about the event, which is at the heart of emotional states and behavioural tendencies.   The event can be something that has happened in the past, something that is happening now or something that could happen in the future.  It can also be real, imaginary or internal or external. 

Beliefs can be healthy or unhealthy.  Healthy beliefs provoke healthy negative emotions about adverse events, whilst unhealthy beliefs provoke unhealthy negative emotions about adverse events.  Many people think mistakenly think that any negative emotion is a problem and as such should be ‘worked on’.  This is not true. 

Unhealthy beliefs provoke unhealthy negative emotions like anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, hurt, hurt, jealousy, shame/embarrassment and unhealthy envy.

The healthy counterpart beliefs provoke healthy negative emotions like concern, sadness, annoyance, remorse, disappointment, concern for one’s relationship, regret and healthy envy. 

Diagram 1 shows the relationship between events, beliefs and their consequences.  Diagram 2 shows the emotional pairs and the themes of the beliefs that provoke them.  For example, Anxiety and Concern are emotional pairs.  Anxiety is the unhealthy emotion provoked by an unhealthy belief about a perceived threat or risk, while Concern is the healthy negative emotion provoked by a healthy belief about perceived threat or risk.

Events, beliefs and their consequences

Events, beliefs and their consequences


Healthy and unhealthy beliefs

The first blog will be on the emotional pair of Anxiety and Concern.   This will be published next week.  We hope you will find it interesting and helpful.

Panic Disorder

11 Jun

The term panic is derived from the name of the Greek god Pan.  According to mythology the cloven footed dwarfish Pan was lonely and moody.  He had an impish sense of humour and if a human passed his cave he would jump out with a shrill and terrifying scream.  The acute terror felt by the human came to be known as Panic.

Ok so we know where the name panic comes from, but what happens when we experience panic…

Many of us in our lives will have suffered with some form of panic attack. Panic attacks can be brought on by all sorts of things, but they typically begin abruptly, may reach a peak within 10 minutes and can last anything from a few minutes to hours.  Panic attacks that continue for a longer period are often triggered by a situation from which the sufferer desires to escape, with some making frantic efforts to escape, which maybe violent if others attempt to stop them. 

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder: severe recurring panic attacks

The effects of a panic attack, for the first time, often lead the sufferer into fearing they are having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown, prolonging the attack itself. It is said that experiencing a panic attack is one of the most intensely frightening, upsetting and uncomfortable experiences of a person’s life. Now imagine, what it is like to suffer with a form of panic attacks on a regular basis? This is exactly what people have to endure who suffer from a panic disorder. A panic disorder is an anxiety disorder, which is characterized by the individual suffering severe recurring panic attacks.

It is estimated that at least 2 million people in the UK alone suffer from panic attacks, for some, these attacks become more regular and lead to more challenging cases of panic disorder.


Signs and Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms of an attack include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Perspiration
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Uncontrollable fear
  • Sweating
  • Chocking sensation
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling,
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Faintness
  • A sense of altered reality

In addition, the sufferer also has thoughts of impending doom and catastrophe, this can be expressed as “something awful/terrible is happening to me, I’m in real danger.” 

According to DSM IV (American Psychiatric Association 1994) a panic disorder is defined by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks followed by at least a month of either:

  1. Persistent anxiety about having more attacks
  2. Worry about the possible implications or consequences of the attacks
  3. A marked change in behaviour as a result of the attacks (e.g. avoiding situations associated with attacks, such as quitting a stressful job)
  4. During the episodes, at least four of the sensations/feelings are experience as listed in the common symptoms of a panic attack above
  5. These attacks are not directly caused by a drug or a general medical condition


Beating Panic Disorder

Treatments that are best effective against panic disorder offer a full a response as possible, and minimise the chances of relapse – this is imperative. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association primarily recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for treating panic disorder. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) builds on the structure provided by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and introduces a hypnosis and hypnotherapy element. This use of hypnotherapy is another tool in the fight against panic disorder.

It is worth remembering that sufferers are individuals, and as such, a case by case approach to treatment is required. This is something the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CCBH) strongly believes in.

Therapists who attend one of the Colleges Master Classes in treating panic disorder are given not only the background knowledge they require in psychopathology and natural history of panic disorder, but information on how best to identify the right treatments for individuals. Therapists who attend one of the Colleges Master Classes in Treating Panic Disorder will learn:

  • Major theories when dealing with Panic Disorder
  • Available treatments and reviews of these treatments (including drug treatments)
  • How best to formulate an individual case
  • Hypnotherapy protocol – session by session treatment
  • Strategies and guidelines for dealing with challenging cases

CBT and CBH provide a full treatment for panic disorder and provide the sufferer with the tools to help them beat panic attacks and stop them re-occurring. By doing this, the individual has the tools at their disposal to beat panic disorder.

If you want to learn how to use Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy to successfully treat panic disorder, then you can attend one of the Master Classes that specialise in Treating Panic Disorder, held by the college.

How do you rate your own Self Esteem?

8 Jun

The College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CCBH) has carried out a number of surveys into self esteem over the past 12 months, and what is constantly interesting to see and understand is how people rate their own self esteem; what they believe self esteem to be and of course, the factors in our lives that we feel influence our self esteem. There is currently a Self Esteem questionnaire running on the CCBH website right now, so please take just a few moments to complete it, and then come back to this blog post.

If you are a keen reader of this blog then you will already have read a few posts on Self Esteem. You can have a look at some of the findings of a previous questionnaire and read the corresponding blog post here. That post focuses on the male or female differences and similarities in terms of self esteem, however this post is more about how we rate our own self esteem, and the factors we believe that influence it.

Solving Self Esteem: It's actually about Self Acceptance

Solving Self Esteem: It’s actually about Self Acceptance

How do I measure my Self Esteem?

Many of us believe we know what self esteem is, but can we actually describe it? Do we actually know how to measure our self esteem?

Self esteem is influenced by our beliefs.  It is based on beliefs that evaluate the self based on certain conditions like success, failure, negative judgement and so on.   For example if someone judges themselves as worthless or a failure because they failed at something then they will have self esteem problems.  This means that they only rate themselves as worthwhile if they succeed.  This all or nothing measurement of the self is at the heart of self esteem problems.  Can you legitimately measure the human self?


In the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy’s latest questionnaire on Self Esteem a number of key questions were asked to find out what impacts on our self esteem. 

Interestingly, there were 2 statements that had the biggest impact on self esteem, and these were the same for both males and females.

  • If I was wrong or made mistakes at work
  • When I am criticised or unappreciated

This means that many people put themselves down if they got things wrong or made mistakes at work and when they get criticised or were unappreciated.   Understanding these factors allows us to deal with problems of self esteem.

Self Esteem Problems

Low self esteem can lead to a host of mental health issues. Often low self esteem is linked to depression, self imposed isolation, feelings of rejection, insignificance and detachment, even a dissatisfaction with current social relationships.

It’s important to recognise low self esteem in oneself, but also in our friends and family members. A person with low self esteem may show some of the following characteristics:

  • Heavy self criticism and dissatisfaction
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism with resentment against critics and feelings of being attacked
  • Chronic indecision and an exaggerated fear of mistakes
  • Excessive will to please and unwillingness to displease others
  • Perfectionism, which can lead to frustration when perfection is not achieved
  • Neurotic guilt, dwelling on and exaggerating the magnitude of past mistakes
  • Floating hostility and general defensiveness
  • Pessimism and a general negative outlook
  • Envy

Solving Self Esteem: It’s about Self Acceptance

The concept of self esteem is psychologically harmful and wrong, striving for enhanced self esteem is quite unsound, and instead, we should strive for self acceptance. With this in mind, treating and solving self esteem problems is very possible by changing our responses to the factors that may influence our self esteem.  This is a concept that the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy has been instructing on in Master Classes over the past 18 months. These Master Classes are open to anyone with an interest in solving self esteem problems, and they help provide the tools that allow us as individuals to move to self acceptance.