Julia Bellerby
Counselling, Psychotherapy, Coaching and Counsellor supervision
Grad. Dip Counselling, Cert. Counsellor Supervision, Dip. Coaching
Mobile: 07939 255425  |  Email: Click here

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Call me on 07939 255425 or click here to contact me by email.

Counselling for anxiety, panic attacks and phobias

I offer counselling and psychotherapy for anxiety, panic and phobias in York or by phone/skype/online worldwide. 

Have you been suffering from some of the following for a few months?

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of concentration
  • Muscular tension
  • Stomach problems
  • Irritability
If so you could benefit from some intervention to help reduce anxiety.

Perhaps you’ve experienced panic attacks: these can be very frightening and you may believe you’re having a heart attack or even that you’re dying. It’s always worth seeing a GP to make sure that the symptoms are psychologically, rather than physically based.

A phobia is an irrational fear of an object, place or situation - for instance spiders, germs, flying. The fear is way out of line with the chances of danger resulting. Agoraphobia is a fear of being in places where you feel trapped or unable to get help, such as in crowds, on a bus, or standing in a queue. At its worst, someone with agoraphobia may feel unable to leave their home. A social phobia is a fear of social situations. It’s often self-perpetuating since the fear can cause you to clam up and you may find it very difficult to communicate.

Our response to a dangerous situation was once a potential lifesaver. If our stone-age ancestors were being chased by some hungry animal, they needed a huge shot of adrenaline to give them extra energy to fight or to run away - the flight or fight mechanism. This reaction by-passes the rational, thinking part of the brain. There wasn't time to work out whether the T-Rex really did want to kill you, you needed to act instantly.
Although the release of stress hormones could still be a life-saver, these days they're more likely to cause problems. The physical symptoms are distressing: heart racing, shallow breathing, upset stomach, nausea, thumping head - in fact if you don't know what they are, they can make you panic even more. Phobias, panic attacks and generalised anxiety are an over-the-top reaction to life’s stresses. The symptoms feel very real, but they serve no purpose. In fact they can ruin your quality of life.

Counselling helps by providing a supportive setting for you to talk frankly about what’s happening to you. Your counsellor will not tell you that you’re being stupid or that you should pull yourself together. You need to analyse in detail what’s causing the problem and work in small steps to reduce your response to it. Panic attacks CAN be controlled; identifying the first symptoms and finding ways to calm or distract yourself helps you to feel you are in control again.

If certain thoughts make you anxious, you can challenge them with your counsellor’s help. For instance if your negative, automatic thought is: “this plane is going to crash”, you can look for evidence to support your thought and if you don’t find any, then replace it with a more rational alternative. For instance, “very occasionally planes do crash, but I’ve flown many times before and there’s never been a problem. Statistically I’m at more risk driving to the airport, yet this doesn’t frighten me”. Repeating these challenges and writing them down helps you to believe them.

Desensitisation therapy asks you to face your fear very gradually. If you have a spider phobia, you might first look at a black and white picture of a spider. You may go through the unpleasantness of stress symptoms, but your counsellor will help you to use relaxation techniques and those symptoms will reduce. The next time you might move on to a colour picture of a spider, then to a moving spider on a screen perhaps, and so on until you can cope with a live spider in the room with you.

If panic, anxiety or phobias are spoiling your life, it’s important to start to confront them not to avoid them, and a counsellor encourages and supports you to take back control.
Julia Bellerby - Counselling, Psychotherapy, Coaching and Counsellor Supervision in York, and worldwide by phone, skype or online

Julia Bellerby
Grad. Dip. Counselling, Cert. Counsellor Supervision, Dip. Coaching, BACP Accredited
Contact me on 07939 255425 or click here to contact me by email.