How can therapy help me with my anxiety?

February 25, 2017


Anxiety is a word that gets thrown around a lot and can mean different things to different people. Essentially, it’s used to describe feeling uneasy, worried and afraid and the mental and physical effects this can cause. For example, before sitting an exam it’s natural to feel scared, worried, sick, have stomach cramps, etc.

So when does anxiety stop being a natural response to a stressful event and turn into something more significant?

Anxiety is caused by the ‘fight or flight response’. A normal biological reaction to when we feel threatened, and something that has been with us since the dawn of man. When your body feels under threat it automatically releases hormones that physically prepare you to fight the danger, or run away from it.


Although we don’t have much use for the fight or flight response anymore – we’re unlikely to be charged at by a woolly mammoth any time soon, our biological reactions to it remains.

Anxiety becomes a problem when the fight or flight response stays switched on and the physical and mental symptoms have an impact on your quality of life.

Long term anxiety can be extremely difficult, and is often experienced alongside other illnesses such as depression and chronic pain. One of the key difficulties is that anxiety can lead to you feeling trapped within a ‘vicious circle’. When you’re feeling low and run down you tend to avoid activity because you don’t have the energy for it, or just can’t muster the motivation. This can lead to you feeling guilty and that you haven’t achieved as much as the ‘healthy’ you would have – you don’t feel like the person you used to be anymore. This makes you feel worse and you avoid more activity and you seem stuck in this never ending circle.

As anxiety can affect your health and wellbeing in numerous ways it is important to figure out the causes and find a way of resolving the anxiety whilst managing the symptoms. Although self-help and medication are useful in reducing symptoms, research has shown that therapy is usually the most effective option when it comes to treating anxiety.

Therapy looks at the causes of triggers and any underlying issues that might aggravate it rather than just treating the symptoms.
One starting point to be used in combination with other therapeutic approaches is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT uses the basis that it’s the way you think and react to a situation that’s causing the anxiety, rather than the situation itself. CBT challenges the way you think in a process called ‘cognitive restructuring’.

It’s a three step process that involves:

  1. Identifying the negative thought processes
  2. Challenging the negative thoughts
  3. Replacing the negative thoughts with realistic thoughts

CBT may also include learning to recognise when you’re anxious and what that feels like for you – often there are some signs that anxiety is going to kick in that when you learn to recognise what they feel like, can help you prevent the anxiety from kicking in.

Therapy gives you the tools to be able to manage the symptoms of anxiety and employ coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques to lessen its impact on you and your life.

Whilst self-help alone may not be effective in treating your anxiety, it is useful when combined with therapy. From writing a journal or diary to help figure out patterns of thinking, or even identifying triggers; through to mindfulness and breathing exercises that can help you through a panic attack. For some great tips and ideas for self-help visit the Mind website

CBT is best used as a ‘holding approach’– it’s useful for managing the anxiety and lessen its impact with a supportive counsellor guiding you through and challenging the negative thinking, but often there are deep rooted issues causing or aggravating your anxiety. So in the long term, it’s important that these issues are resolved through exploration and discussion with an experienced counsellor.

There are various kinds of therapeutic approaches that can be used to discover these causes which are tailored to your needs, problems and requirements ensuring that you get what you really need out of therapy.

room3Having an open mind is important when starting therapy as the process can be a difficult one with long-term thoughts that have to be challenged and adjusted. However, it is effective in treating anxiety and can mean the difference between coping with your anxiety and living your life how you want to.

Claire ScottFor a more in-depth discussion about how therapy can help you contact Claire at to arrange your initial consultation.
Due to the Covid19 pandemic, Claire is currently working online. If you are curious about online therapy, take a look at the Online Therapy blog here.

In the meantime, check out these YouTube videos that you may find useful.

“Sorry for your loss”… Coping with grief and bereavement

January 30, 2017

Losing someone in your life can lead to huge changes and make you feel differently about much that you used to take for granted. Grief and bereavement can take you by surprise and mess with your head.

Bereavement can cause confusing emotions

How long you take coping and adjusting to the loss is not dependent on anyone else’s timetable and there is no right way to grieve. People feel intense emotions or sometimes don’t feel the strong emotions they might have expected. We don’t always react in the way we might have imagined or we can be hijacked by powerful distressing emotions that are confusing even though they might have been expected. Sometimes grief can take you by surprise after a period of time – a kick in the stomach triggered by a word, a feeling or thought, a piece of music or the smell of a familiar scent.

grief aloneIt can feel desperately lonely dealing with loss and grief. Friends don’t always understand what to say and often say nothing at all – perhaps feeling scared they will say the wrong thing or can’t cope with their own fear of death. Others say what they think should help “move you on”. Perhaps you won’t be ready to move on and their well-meaning comments will feel inappropriate or ill timed.

Family members might be going through a similar or totally different set of feelings from the same loss of family member. How do you address it within the family? Can you cope with the differences? Or are they ignored? Are there unresolved conflicts? Or is there anger that the deceased is no longer there for the ones that remain? Many of these things can lead to you to feeling lost and alone.

I don’t have anyone to talk to about my loss

Sometimes you may want someone to listen to you talk about your loss, other times you don’t want to talk at all. Friends and family can often be an amazing help, listening empathetically when they share understanding, being there on the end of the phone when you most need it – keep these people close. Sadly, some of your friends may not be able to support in the way you would like. They may be emotionally unavailable to cope with your loss on top of their own difficulties in life. At times it can feel like people call or text less often and you can feel neglected and disappointed in friends you had felt were close to you. Death and grief scares some people and often their tactic is to avoid an awkward situation, rather than considering your feelings above their own.

talking to the dogRather than talking to the dog (or perhaps in addition to), you might wish to consider contacting a counsellor to help you through your bereavement. Talking about loss and letting your feelings out can help you begin to adjust to life and to consider what the relationship with the person meant to you. Bottling up or repressing difficult feelings can maintain the grief and make
coping with bereavement much harder.

When does bereavement end?

You may have read about the stages of bereavement. While it is common for grief to move through stages, for example denial and anger initially, we don’t always stick to textbook approaches in life and you might find that your personal experience of grief differs from what you read about on the Internet – and this is normal. We might not grieve in ways we have seen others grieve, or might spend far longer in certain stages than we might expect. If you are coping alone or feeling alone with your grief, you can find yourself feeling overwhelmed with difficult feelings or perhaps feel numb and lacking in feeling. When feelings are unprocessed in this way, it can sometimes lead to complicated grief or even depression.


Accepting a loss is complicated. There is often shock initially, even when the person has been quite unwell and death is expected. It is common to go through a period of disbelief and confusion. The range of emotions experienced when grieving can also be confusing. Despair and sorrow are expected and are common, but guilt and anger can overwhelm if you are not expecting to feel that way. You may feel nothing at all, numbness or emptiness taking over instead. You can be left with questions as well as emotions – why am I feeling this way? You might find yourself reacting to people in your life in challenging ways as a response to the grief you are experiencing.

bereavement memoriesGrief can also allow your mind to focus on the person and your relationship at a much deeper level than perhaps you were used to when they are alive. Unanswered questions may arise, never to be answered. Unresolved issues that you had successfully buried, may be unearthed and leave you with new emotions or thoughts.

Coping with grief

Sometimes grief feels so bad, it can completely stop you in your tracks. It feels almost impossible to carry on with normal life. Relationships may suffer and it could be difficult to cope with work assignments or even to get out of bed. These are normal reactions and part of the bereavement process, but if you feel it is going on for longer than you would expect, you may need extra support. If you are coping by self-medicating, drinking more alcohol or drugs, eating erratically, behaving recklessly or becoming violent or are having suicidal thoughts, talking to both your GP and/or a counsellor would be a important step forward. If grief has moved into a general feeling of worthlessness, it could be helpful to speak to someone to prevent it developing into depression.

Moving on

moving onA few months after my mother’s death I mentioned my feelings of sadness to a friend. His response, by text said, “time to move on”. It was an ill-timed, and perhaps thoughtless reaction of someone unable to empathise with my situation. Fortunately I had others around me who were more understanding.

I did adjust and over time I found I wasn’t thinking about my mum quite as much as when I was first bereaved. I would still have my moments where I felt the loss deeply, seemingly at random moments, but often triggered by something. Fifteen years later, her life and personality have more meaning to me than her death.

Other losses may be more difficult to deal with and take longer or be a bigger part of our life after. The loss of a baby or child can be incomparable and difficult for others to relate to, leaving the sufferer more alone with their confusing feelings.

therapy roomSpeaking to a counsellor about grief and feelings may help you adjust and begin to accept the loss and help you to live your life again. You are always likely to miss and think about the person and some feelings of grief may stay with you. It changes who you are, but you can go on.

If you would like to speak to Claire about bereavement or issues surrounding grief, you can email or call 07967 611736 or use the Contact form.

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, Claire is currently working online. If you are curious about online therapy, take a look at the Online Therapy blog here.

Helpful information

Cruse Bereavement Care National helpline –

Child Bereavement UK –

Bereavement Advice Centre –

Samaritans 116 123 (UK)

New therapy rooms!

January 2, 2017

Insight Counselling in Hove has relocated!

room5Our new therapy rooms address is 69 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2BB. The beautiful, newly designed rooms are on the second floor, entrance is on the side.

Contact Claire at Insight Counselling on to make an introductory appointment or to take a look.


Coping with Christmas

December 21, 2016

How do you feel about the holiday period coming up?

ball-65825_1280Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, this time of year is often difficult for many people. Many people suffer with depression over a prolonged holiday period. Some people find themselves alone for much longer, businesses are often closed, leaving people without regular places to be. Preparing for the time on one’s own can be anxiety making and difficult for those who may already be lonely at times.

Why do some people find themselves depressed during the holiday time?

blur-1867322_1280For some, there is simply so much to do, relatives arriving, gifts to purchase, house to clean and not enough time. Stress can make the preparations harder. For others, it might be the opposite and anticipating the empty days over the holidays can be distressing.

xmas-660694_1280It is sometimes difficult to not compare our lives with others. It might look like people are having happy, amazing times, when we are not so full of joy. Television and social media bombard us with images showing families celebrating together with happy smiling faces. This can severely affect self-esteem and confidence – are we good enough?

We might look back on previous years when times were different, grieve and mull over difficult times in our lives. Having extra time on our hands provides opportunities for rumination and thinking about what is not going right in our lives.

Loneliness can be terribly hard at Christmas. Spending time alone over the few days when other people are apparently with family and friends, can feel very isolating. Even when surrounded by people, this feeling of loneliness can be much worse than normal if the connection with the people with you isn’t strong.

How can you help look after yourself?

winter-575101_1280Be aware of how you are feeling. Try to consider ways you can help yourself – exercise, eating well, drinking alcohol wisely rather than to excess. Don’t let go of your normal routine, continue to exercise or do extra if you don’t regularly exercise. Self-care is important. Try to avoid slumping in front of the television and get outside – even just for a walk.
If you do have people around you and can talk about how you are feeling, give it a go – people can sometimes surprise us by being supportive, empathising or just listening. Sometimes people push our buttons over the holiday -we might be spending much more time with people we wouldn’t normally or old family feuds resurface. Taking a step back might be the best option, rather than responding with anger.

reading-1246520_1280Find a good book to get engrossed in instead of getting involved in the disagreements.


ice-846733_1280Whether you have tried mindfulness or meditation before or not, it might be a good time to start. Is there five or ten minutes where you could find some quiet time just for yourself? Focus on your breath and sit quietly for a few minutes. Don’t worry if you can hear noise or can’t concentrate for very long. A few minutes time out may help you manage your stress levels.

However you spend your time, look after yourself as best you can.

If you feel you need help or would like to talk to a counsellor about feelings of loneliness or anything else contact Insight Counselling at or use the Contact Page.

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, Claire is currently working online. If you are curious about online therapy, take a look at the Online Therapy blog here.

When is the right time to see a counsellor?

December 6, 2016

clock-1274699_1280Something I’ve noticed as a counsellor is that too often people struggle on with their problems for longer than they need to before getting help. Often this is because they see counselling or therapy as a sign of weakness. Yet so many of my clients tell me they wish they’d started visiting me earlier than they did.

So when is the right time to try counselling?

If you’re reading this then probably now. Ok, that might sound a little presumptive but you have to want to start counselling or therapy for it to work. If you’re being pushed into by friends, family or even your employer and you don’t like the idea… it’s not going to be as beneficial to you. Counselling is a process that is led by you – you need to be wanting to make changes in your life for us to work together to figure out how, and what’s been stopping you. So if you’re looking at blogs and websites now is probably a good time to get started.

Some people are put off going to a professional because they have someone close to them that they talk to – why pay someone to do that? It’s important to distinguish between how a counsellor can help you, over that of a friend or loved one. The value of talking to someone close to you can never be underestimated, they know you best after all! But often that is the very reason why you need to talk to someone else.

A counsellor has the emotional expertise and experience to be able to help you navigate through your difficulties and find your way again

Rather than talking about the issues counselling can help with, let’s look at how counselling has helped Marie (fictional representation of a past patient).

ball-407081_1920Marie had been experiencing low moods for quite a while and getting easily irritated over the smallest of things. This had started to develop into anxiety and depression and Marie was struggling to find ways to cope. She’d tried talking to her friends but they couldn’t understand why she wasn’t happy. Feeling increasingly cut off, Marie knew she needed to talk to someone who could help.

Marie started attending weekly counselling sessions where she found it helpful having someone to talk to who had no pre-conceived ideas or judgements about her life. She was able to voice her thoughts and concerns in a way that she couldn’t with anyone else.

With a friendly and objective ear to talk to, Marie began figuring out the causes of her problems with some gentle guidance. Once she’d considered the best ways of addressing them and started to take action, she began to feel much happier.

Sometimes friends want to offer their viewpoint and ‘fix’ the problem for you, but a counsellor is there to ensure that the decisions you make are the right ones for you. It’s because they don’t have any vested interests that they can be completely objective and offer a balanced perspective.

Counselling isn’t a quick fix, but it does help in reaching long lasting solutions

suitcase-1412996_1920Marie’s problems aren’t uncommon, and it’s certainly not a sign of weakness turning to a counsellor to help with them. It’s a way of taking back control and working things out for yourself, enabling you to make lasting changes in how you approach life and its challenges.
So let’s look at Marie’s problems in a little more detail, and how counselling helped with them.

Low mood

A low mood every now and then is a regular part of life but Marie was consistently feeling low and just couldn’t find a way to get herself out of it. She was starting to feel incredibly anxious and found herself slipping into depression. Marie said she was easily irritated by anything and would often fly off the handle at the smallest thing – she felt out of control.

In counselling we were able to create a safe environment for Marie to talk through her thoughts and feelings. As is often the case, Marie felt out of control of her emotions due to suppressing them for too long. So we talked through some of the important life events that had affected her in the past and how she could move on from them, and found some coping mechanisms she could use to help with any difficulties in the future.

child-1051288_1920We often don’t realise just how much past experiences can affect us in the here and now, and talking them through can be extremely difficult. Being able to make the connections between the problems you are finding challenging to cope with today and what you have found difficult in the past, can help you identify potential challenges early enough to be able to put coping mechanisms and strategies in place before they can become an issue.

Counselling is a cathartic process that can be a real eye opener enabling you to move on from what has been holding you back. 

No one listens anymore

Marie said she found it increasingly difficult to find friends she could talk to. Few of them could understand why she wasn’t happy and she couldn’t keep turning to the ones that did. Marie was increasingly feeling alone and isolated – which turned out to be the main reason she came to me for help.

A counsellor is there to listen without judgement. As I hadn’t met Marie before I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about her or her life. I was genuinely interested in listening to Marie’s concerns and supporting her in finding the right solution for her wants and needs.

Counselling isn’t just about having no one else to talk to, lots of people turn to a counsellor despite being surrounded by friends and family. It’s having someone entirely focused on you, your needs, your difficulties and finding the right way to overcome them for you. As counselling is all about you, you have the control to take things at your pace and really delve into your difficulties in a way you’ve probably never been able to before.

Low confidence and self-esteem

After a few sessions with Marie, she told me how she couldn’t understand where she’d lost her confidence and self-esteem. She was always the bubbly one but now she struggled to be outgoing. It’s not unusual for confidence levels to fluctuate through our lives, but it can be tricky working out why and how to get it back again.
During counselling we discussed how Marie’s ideas of what she should be like were typical of how media tell us we should be. There was a disconnect when Marie compared herself to the women she was reading about in magazines and this was the cause of her low self-esteem and loss of confidence. We talked about setting her own personal standards and ways of judging if she was doing ok rather than constant comparison to other people.

smartphone-1445489_1280Traditional and social media can all influence the view we have of our lives, those of our friends, and those in the spotlight. Often this is negative and we end up comparing ourselves unfavourably to other people.

An outsiders’ perspective and guidance can be a useful tool when working on your own confidence and esteem. Counselling offers this in a safe environment, free from judgement and prejudice. 

Poor relationships with others

coffee-1878750_1280Marie found it difficult to make lasting connections with other people, and was finding it harder to maintain her existing friendships. Sometimes we might have everything that we want from life but we just can’t seem to make our relationships work the way we would like them to.

Working with Marie I was able to help her identify that communication was her main stumbling block. We talked through the different ways she could communicate and how she might be able to improve. Marie put these ideas into practice and reported that she was going out with her friends more often and had even made some new ones.

Overall, Marie had felt that her life was stuck in a rut. She wasn’t living the life she had imagined or hoped to be leading, her friends seemed distant and aloof, and her low confidence and esteem were preventing her from getting ahead. Marie admitted that at times she felt like there was little point carrying on as her anxiety and depression were making things too difficult to cope with.

It can be difficult to be true to ourselves when we’re constantly bombarded by television and media telling us that we should be a certain way. But happiness and change can only occur through the process of establishing what you really want and need from life – not what others tell you! This is something that’s much easier to discover with a counsellor to help you.

There are many reasons why you might be considering counselling or therapy. If you’re reading this then maybe now is a good time to get in touch and start clearing the obstacles preventing you from being happy and successful?

Claire ScottAt Insight Counselling Brighton & Hove, I offer a relaxed and comfortable environment where you can safely talk through your issues and concerns, and start living the life you want to. Email me today at and we can get started soon.

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, Claire is currently working online. If you are curious about online therapy, take a look at the Online Therapy blog here.

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