WS04 – The Anxious Moment and How to Handle It

Picture of Reid Wilson
07 Dec 2018
08:30 - 10:30

WS04 – The Anxious Moment and How to Handle It

A client’s willingness to embrace doubt and discomfort while feeling afraid requires them to elevate above their immediate fear and apply a new response based on a new and provocative therapeutic frame of reference. This workshop will present how to persuade clients to engage in such a therapeutic protocol to respond to an anxious moment in a manner that promotes healing. Participants will learn how to present four concepts to justify this approach. First, the limbic system’s amygdala needs to learn over time that an alarm response is not required in moments similar to this one. Second, the working memory is a powerful asset whose tasks include pushing away irrelevant information and distractions and then directing the attention to where you want it in the next few moments by calling up assets from long-term memory. Third, the work of Barb Fredrickson supports the strategy of generating a positive meaning for purposely producing those feelings of threat and then stepping forward, voluntarily, because in that moment you can see your action in the broader context of your life’s goals. Fredrickson believes that positive intentions can transform negative experiences. Fourth, Les Greenberg’s lifetime of research leads him to rationalize that you can replace the emotions of withdrawal with the emotions of approach. He believes that you do not accomplish this by thinking, reasoning, allowing, letting go of, or facing your fear, nor do you accomplish this by exposure, extinction, or habituation. You can learn to approach instead of withdraw during a threatening moment by activating a competing emotion that expresses a competing point of view.

Educational Objectives:

  1. Defend logically the therapeutic benefits of embracing doubt and discomfort.
  2. Explain how to engage the working memory in service of therapeutically managing the anxious moment.
  3. Persuade an anxious client of the benefits of seeking out distressing moments while simultaneously holding an incompatible point of view.