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Description: Everyone worries sometimes about some things. Some people worry a LOT and have trouble dealing with the constantly high levels of anxiety  that comes along with those worries. What do you think this is and what can people do, or be helped to do, that will make things better and reduce their levels and frequencies of anxiety? Bob Newhart had a comedy sketch in which he played a psychologist with a very simple approach to treating anxieties, worries and other challenges or disorders that took less than 5 minutes of his clients’ time and for which he charged just $5 or one dollar a minute if it took less time. He would have the client describe their problem and then he would dispense his advice/treatment which just involved forcefully telling them “Stop It!” Sound like a good therapy technique? Well, not so much. However, the 17 approaches to reducing worrying described in the article linked below are supported by clinical research and ARE more sophisticated than Stop It therapy, and they are also more effective so have a look though the linked article and find out about them.

Source: How to Stop Overthinking and Reduce Anxiety, Elaine K. Howley and Anna Medaris Miller, U.S. News and World Reports.

Date: January 19, 2023.

Image by Sam Williams from Pixabay

Article Link:

It IS important to understand that simply calling a client a “kook” as Bob did in the sketch is NOT a viable therapeutic approach. It is better to help the client understand that worry is a part of being human while runaway worry can be debilitating. I like the characterization of worry as a Goldilocks issue: a little bit is not enough, a LOT is too much and so somewhere in the middle, perhaps at times under one’s own control is just right. The article provides some good examples of how a clinical psychologist would work with their clients in applying one or more of the worry reducing tactics. Importantly while suggesting that people can try any or all of the approaches themselves they should be open to the possibility that they may need to get some help (professional help) in addressing their worries and anxiety.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What might be some ways to distinguish between good worrying and negative or problematic worrying?
  2. How are worrying and anxiety related?
  3. Which of the worry reducing tactics described in the linked article do you think would work for you and why?

References (Read Further):

Davey, G. C., Hampton, J., Farrell, J., & Davidson, S. (1992). Some characteristics of worrying: Evidence for worrying and anxiety as separate constructs. Personality and Individual Differences, 13(2), 133-147. Link

Wells, A. (2010). Metacognitive theory and therapy for worry and generalized anxiety disorder: Review and status. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 1(1), jep-007910. Link

Brenes, G. A., Divers, J., Miller, M. E., & Danhauer, S. C. (2018). A randomized preference trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy and yoga for the treatment of worry in anxious older adults. Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, 10, 169-176. Link

Bayrami, M., Movahedi, Y., Kazimi Razai, S. V., & Esmaili, S. (2015). The effect of mindfulness cognitive therapy on pathological worry and anxiety symptoms in students with generalized anxiety disorder. Iranian Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 2(1), 79-90. Link

Parmentier, F. B., García-Toro, M., García-Campayo, J., Yañez, A. M., Andrés, P., & Gili, M. (2019). Mindfulness and symptoms of depression and anxiety in the general population: The mediating roles of worry, rumination, reappraisal and suppression. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 506. Link

Feng, Y. C., Krahé, C., Koster, E. H., Lau, J. Y., & Hirsch, C. R. (2022). Cognitive processes predict worry and anxiety under different stressful situations. Behaviour research and therapy, 157, 104168. Link

Koerner, N., & Dugas, M. J. (2006). A cognitive model of generalized anxiety disorder: The role of intolerance of uncertainty. Worry and its psychological disorders: Theory, assessment and treatment, 201-216. Link