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Why Won't Your Anxiety Counsellor Tell You What to Do?

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If your anxiety is affecting your everyday life, then you may have decided to try therapy treatment. Once you find a counsellor, you may be relieved that you're about to get help even though the thought of counselling itself makes you anxious.

However, after a couple of sessions, you start to feel a bit frustrated. You've bonded with your counsellor but don't feel that your anxiety is getting much better. Your counsellor listens to you talk but isn't giving you any solutions to deal with your long-term problems.

Why won't your counsellor just tell you what to do?

Patterns of Behaviour Take Time

If you've signed up for talk therapy, then you do most of talking when you see your counsellor. They talk back to you, of course, and may prompt you at certain times, but you generally choose what to talk about.

As you talk about things that are on your mind and about past events, your counsellor can help you spot patterns of behaviour. They can connect your current anxieties to specific events in your past including the way you were brought up as a child.

These patterns are invaluable. They can help you understand why you get anxious about certain things or in certain situations. However, it can take time for these patterns to emerge. Until you know where your anxiety comes from, you can't necessarily manage it effectively.

Change Is Most Effective if You Drive it

As your counsellor helps you identify and understand patterns of behaviour, you may expect that they'll give you a list of things to do to deal with your anxiety. They may well be able to do this but being told how to change isn't always that effective.

For example, your counsellor could tell you to try confronting your anxiety by putting yourself in a situation that triggers it. The principle here is that you'll start to overcome your anxiety by experiencing it.

You may understand this on an intellectual level; however, you may not accept it emotionally. If trying to push yourself too soon doesn't work, then you may blame your counsellor for giving you bad advice.

However, if you decide to do something for yourself —with your counsellor's support and guidance — then you own the change. You've worked out what to do for yourself and have developed some of the coping skills you need to move forward.

If you are frustrated about how slowly your therapy is working or how long it is taking to work out what to do, then talk to your counsellor about it. They can explain more about how the process works. In the end, a therapist will do the type of anxiety treatment that they think will best help you.