Anxiety is a protective response in the human body. It helps to safeguard us from coming to harm by raising an internal alarm that causes us to want to either run away or avoid the situation when confronted with something that might cause us harm or distress. It helps us to be careful.

Although anxiety is a normal and healthy human response, we may at times become overwhelmed by the thoughts and sensations associated with anxiety. If it starts to interfere with our quality of our life, or gets in the way of things that are important to us, and self-help methods have already been tried, then therapeutic intervention may be called for.

The roots of debilitating anxiety often lie in a particular life situation which, at the time, seemed unmanageable and where the response was to become overly concerned, worried or agitated. This experience may have reinforced negative beliefs about ourself, a sense of a loss of control, a loss of connection, hopelessness or an inability to self-manage. We may also have established a pattern of avoiding certain situations or places in an attempt to manage the anxiety.

Signs of anxiety manifest as tension in the body include tightness in the chest, tension in the throat (sometimes resulting in a change to the voice), stomach knots, feeling restless, irritability, having trouble relaxing or insomnia. More extreme signs include shortness of breath (dyspnoea), fast heartbeat (tachycardia), trembling and shaking, excessive perspiration and a feeling as if we are out of control.

Anxiety can take various forms, some of which are:

  • general anxiety which may be present most of the time
  • social anxiety where there is fear about an impending social situation or public performance
  • separation anxiety where the fear is of being separated from people to whom we are attached.
  • panic attacks where sharp fear overwhelms us in a short space of time
  • agoraphobia where there is a fear is about being outside in public and can manifest in various unique ways.


The causes of anxiety are too numerous to mention. All manner of life situations can provoke anxiety. Some common factors that may exacerbate our anxiety though include having a quiet temperament in childhood, exposure to a stressful or traumatic situation, event or circumstance, the presence of anxiety in the family, or a health condition such as over-active thyroid. Anxiety can also be induced physically via drugs such as caffeine, medication, alcohol or cannabis.


Therapy for anxiety involves gaining a fuller understanding of our anxiety “landscape”. We can explore elements of the anxiety such as when and where it manifests in our present day living, when it first began, what was happening at that time, what triggers its onset, what makes it worse and what makes it better, and what is happening in the body when we are in particular situations. Understanding the purpose of the anxiety, recognising the difference between productive and unproductive thoughts, assessing the reality of negative thoughts, examining our self-talk, challenging our beliefs and fears, and finding ways to let go of worries and solve problems can all help. Breathing techniques and relaxation exercises can be used as ways to ameliorate the physical symptoms of anxiety.

A certain level of anxiety is a necessary part of everyday life but it should not become something that is overwhelming. If it does, we can explore ways in which to make it more manageable.

Various approaches may be drawn upon as the unique anxiety picture demands including:

  • Narrative therapy which involves gaining an understanding of our life story with a view to highlighting strengths and incidents of resilience in the past
  • Interpersonal therapy where our current relationships, with ourself, others and the therapist, are used as a means to focus in on the ways in which we connect and communicate
  • Behaviour therapy which explores how we might change our behaviour to manage our anxiety such as giving ourself permission to leave a situation or challenging ourselves to engage in a particular social activity
  • Mindfulness where being present to what is happening in the moment can provide support with mood regulation
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) involves observation of our thinking patterns and actions as the basis for challenging negative unhelpful thoughts and establishing new thinking patterns
  • Medication may be used in cases of severe anxiety. Psychotherapeutic work can take place alongside this but the medication part is managed by the doctor or GP.


"She is a very calming, understanding and nonjudgmental person and it is so nice to have the space she creates each week to go to where I can feel"
accepted and supported

Client J

"Jane helped me learn more about myself and to find a self-compassion that helped me in my relationship with myself and others"

Client C

"Jane helped me to understand my own feelings and how I could deal with them"

Client N

"I've been attending sessions with Jane on and off for a few years now and I have found her to be really supportive and helpful during this time"

Client J

"She always makes me feel comfortable enough to speak openly in our sessions"

Client N

"Jane helped me through some very tough times and her compassionate and nonjudgmental attitude has allowed me to feel more comfortable in myself when I'm out in the world"

Client J


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