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Worrying at times is likely an unavoidable part of life. We may worry about money, about our health, about the future of the country, about what others think of us, about what will happen to our family when we are gone, etc. However, when worrying fills up most of our time, when we cannot relax or enjoy life because of excessive worries, when others tell us over and over that we worry too much, or when worries are irrational and persistent, therapy may be very useful. Therapy can help people manage and minimize worrying. In many cases, worrying may be a way of avoiding actually having to solve problems, or a way of avoiding thinking about a particular situation, person, impulse or need we do not want to think about. Worrying may also be a way to express anger, fear, or depression. Worrying can be a habit learned in childhood.
Therapy for worry can probably lessen our worrying, and help us know how to manage when we do worry, but it won’t eliminate worrying. Frequent worry may be associated with obsessive-compulsive or other anxiety disorders. Worrying about completely irrational fears without recognizing they are irrational may indicate schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, or may occur during the manic phase of bipolar.
Frieda, 11, worries constantly about her school work, the health of her pet cat, and the weather, among other things. After a few therapy sessions spent in play, themes in Frieda’s imagination unfold: Suppressed anger, scary monsters, going to heaven. A family history reveals her father’s struggle with alcohol and anger, and her mother’s reliance on religious faith to cope. Although her father is now sober, Frieda fears a return to the chaos of her early childhood, and copes by hiding in a world of religious fear and fantasy. Through play therapy, and facilitated conversation with her mother and father, Frieda begins to regain a sense of trust and the ability of herself and her parents to keep her stay safe.
Jordan, 50, takes a leave of absence from work to deal with his excessive worrying. He is a “perfectionist” and very self-critical if he completes any work assignment less than perfectly. Therapy helps him recognize his deep need to please his parents, which has turned him into a workaholic. Getting Jordan in touch with his own needs and desires helps him to move through his fear of failure and allow himself to enjoy life.
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Last updated: 09-30-2014