Transcription: Listen To An Interview with Arlene Foreman about Anxiety Disorder Symptoms and Treatment
Bill: You’re about to listen to an interview with Arlene Foreman, a licensed psychotherapist located in Ardmore, Pensylvannia. Arlene has had the great privilege of being invited into the lives of hundreds of individuals all around the Philadelphia area. It is her hope that this interview will help those suffering from anxiety. Let’s begin our interview with Arlene Foreman.
Arlene, we’re talking about anxiety, and first of all I’d like to know first what is anxiety?
Arlene: I’m a mental health counselor, and I’m gonna tell you that what anxiety is it’s not a psychological disorder. It’s a medical disorder.
Bill: How’s that?
Arlene: The anxiety, the symptoms, are coming from an overactive adrenal glands, that are coming from an overstimulated amygdala in the brain. And I use psychological techniques to help people with anxiety. But people anxiety often think that they’re going crazy… that they have a severe mental illness, and when I’ve treated them with anxiety, they’re like everybody else. Children will get anxiety. I have clients tell me they remember 5 years old and terrified to leave mother to go to nursery school, and they’ll tell me their brother or their sister never felt that way. And these children are born with a sensitive nervous system. They just have super sensitive nervous system. Anxiety people are usually very intelligent, bright people and they pick up everything. And sometimes even lights are too bright, sounds are too loud, the wind blowing is too strong for them, and they get easily overwhelmed. Well, when you spend a lifetime constantly overstimulating the brain, overstimulating the aymgdala, it’s overstimulating the adrenal glands until you get to the point where instead of just feeling anxiety at the times when you’re overstimulated, the adrenal glands are just constantly pouring out adrenaline, and you’re just in a constant state of anxiety.
Bill: So when you say that this is a medical disorder or a medical issue, is this something I’d go to see a medical doctor for?
Arlene: Well, I’d suggest that my clients go to a medical doctor because the symptoms of anxiety are also the symptoms of some major illnesses, like thyroid disease, hyperglycemia mimics this kind of a thing. You can have heart disease. You know you could have a racing heart, a pounding heart, and I could foolishly say “Don’t worry, I’m going to give you ways to treat the anxiety and it’s gonna go away.”, but it might be something more than that. You might have tachycardia, you might have an overactive heart. So I suggest that people get a good medical exam with blood tests so that the doctors saying that “You’re health is clean.” And then what I suggest is that you say to the doctor is “I’m concerned. Could it be an anxiety disorder?”
Arlene: Because I have hyperthyroid, does not mean I don’t have an anxiety disorder.
Bill: At least you know that there’s a medical condition.
Arlene: And that when the medical condition has been treated, I still have the anxiety.
Bill: So you still have to treat that as well.
Bill: So you’ve mentioned the pounding heart. What are some other symptoms that anxiety would create?
Arlene: Um, people with anxiety have shortness of breath, they’ll have racing thoughts like they’d tell me their mind just won’t shut up, and it especially hits them when they lay down to go to sleep at night. Sometimes they’ll wake up in the middle of the night with an anxiety or panic attack, and they’re terrified like “What’s the matter with me that that’s happening?”, and it’s just what happens to people. You know there are theories – maybe because you’re so anxious all day and night that you’re having dreams about that and so you’re getting that rush of adrenaline – we really don’t know. But it’s a normal course of this disorder.
Bill: Now how does someone know if they’re having a panic attack? I mean, what is that?
Arlene: Someone who is having a panic attack does not need me to answer that question. (laughs) No, it’s just like a tiger just broke through the window and it’s now in their living room and the door is shut and you can’t get out – that’s how they feel. It’s like an incredible terror for no reason. I’ve had people tell me they just took out the trash and they’re standing by the trash can and get this overwhelming terror. It doesn’t – the panic attack does not necessarily co-relate to something happening that would panic you.
Bill: It could just happen out of nowhere, you’re saying?
Arlene: Right! And that’s why people feel that they’re going crazy.
Bill: So you mentioned about racing thoughts, and I’m thinking of, especially thoughts of worry, is ‘worrying’ and ‘anxiety’, is that the same thing?
Arlene: They’re not the same thing, but worry will set you up for anxiety, and people with anxiety worry a lot. And believe me, they’re not worried about wonderful things that will happen to them.
Bill: Negative thinking?
Arlene: Exactly. Sometimes I tell my anxiety clients that they think they’re psychic. The problem with their psychic powers is that they are predicting futures that are always bad. If you’re gonna call yourself ‘psychic’, at least predict good futures! (laughs)
Bill: So then, you know, what comes first? The chicken or the egg, in terms of this worry and anxiety?
Arlene: My sense is that putting aside super-sensitive people, and putting aside people that have been profoundly traumatized as children so that they are now adults with overactive amygdalas and overactive adrenal glands. People will have negative thoughts, and I have seen it Bill where somebody is not, does not, have anxiety and while I’m treating them for something else – whether it’s a marriage counseling or depression or whatever – they’ll have a car accident. And they’ll get post-traumatic stress which is actually just anxiety from some sort of a profound, unusual event, and then they’ll start negative thinking. They were never negative thinkers before.
Bill: So the trauma jilted something in their brain to think negative thoughts?
Arlene: Right, and once they get that track on negative thinking, once they start “I’m afraid I’m going to have another accident!” then they become psychic and “I’m afraid I’m gonna lose my job!”, “I’m afraid my child’s gonna be sick!”, and it goes on and on and on.
Bill: And are you saying, as a result of this negative thinking, these negative things occur? Or, you’re being psychic and all that? I’m not sure.
Arlene: No, it never happens! That’s the irony – it never happens!
Bill: But they’re thinking it’s gonna happen?
Arlene: So what happens is, the negative thing that happens is they end up with anxiety. But the events themselves – that’s the irony of it is, that the thing they’re terrified of most, like a lot of people with anxiety won’t go over the Ben Franklin bridge – well the bridge never collapses. And they never drive off of the bridge. But they’re terrified.
Bill: I see.
Arlene: You know, an important issue is that if your wife is going in for quintuple bypass, and you have anxiety, that’s not anxiety disorder.
Bill: That’s normal.
Bill: That’s a big, big operation.
Arlene: Yeah, but if your wife is going in to take them off, and you’re having panic attack, then you have an anxiety disorder.
Bill: So it’s kinda relative to your reaction to what’s going on.
Arlene: Exactly. Exactly. The feelings are not much based in truth.
Bill: That’s what I was thinking because I know everyone has a little bit, little tiny phobias that, they may have one or two things. But what you’re saying, with anxiety, it’s like all the time.
Arlene: Right. And sometimes these phobias are just quirky things we all have, I mean, you know, we’re all afraid of snakes, so what? We don’t go to the zoo that often.
Bill: Right. But if it’s something that’s happening on a daily, consistent basis, then chances are you’re having anxiety.
Bill: Now is that what they would call ‘general anxiety disorder’?
Arlene: General anxiety disorder. Right. And there’s also Panic Disorder, and that’s what we talked about the tiger jumping into the window, and Post Traumatic Stress, when the anxiety is coming from some sort of a trauma.
Bill: So I’m an anxious person. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and I come to you. What are we gonna do about this? How are you gonna help me?
Arlene: Well, one of the first things I’m going to do, assuming you didn’t hear this thing, so I’m gonna help you understand that you’re not crazy. That you don’t have this serious mental illness, and that there are specific that I have that will help you, and my anxiety clients, when they come, suffer more than any of my other clients, and it’s one of the most easy, predictable courses of treatment to help people, because it’s not a mental disorder. You’re not crazy.
Bill: So it’s a matter of just re-thinking or…
Arlene: Well, just to give you an example, one of the things that I’ll do, I just had a client last week that came in with an anxiety disorder. And very few present with an anxiety disorder, often times they know something’s wrong, but they can’t tell me what it is, and I need to ask, and ask, and ask, until finally they’re telling me something that they’re worrying a lot, and I tell them “What happens to you when you worry a lot?”, and they’d say “Oh my heart will start pounding really hard.” And then I’ll ask a few more questions that apply to anxiety disorder, and when I teill them they have anxiety disorder, they have like two reactions: they’re so relieved, and then worried that they have something terrible, and then think that they’re the only person in the world that has it. And I think the statistics are something like, I don’t know, 1 in 5, especially today, people that have a sometime in their lives have had anxiety disorder. And I think like 1 in 9, like walk around with it for months. I’ve had clients who come in with 20 years of anxiety disorder that never stop.
Bill: And that’s a lot of people. You’re talking about 1 in 9.
Arlene: Right. So one of the things that I do is to really impress upon them that it’s a physical disorder, I have a computer program in my office that was developed by the HeartMath Institute, and I sit them at the desk and I put a sensor on their finger, and they watch the screen. It’s called “Heart Rate Variability”, and they used to think that the heart beat should be like 72, 72, 72. Well they have realized now, the heart should be doing 72, 76, 72, 76, 78, 74, 68, just a little bit of variability, but up and down. Well I’ve had them where there’s no variability, it’s almost flat. And I’ve had them where instead of the smooth sine wave, the heart is just making these sharp up and down peaks, and it might go 70, 85, and then it’s dropping down 72, it’s going up to 90, and they look at what their heart is doing.
Bill: So it’s really a graphic display of their anxiety, is what you’re saying?
Arlene: Right. And then they go “Oh my God! Am I gonna die? Am I gonna have a heart attack?” And what I reassure them is they’re not gonna die, they’re not gonna have a heart attack. And when I started working with anxiety disorders around 15 years ago, the research I saw said that it will never hurt you. Well, we know now we study more and more about stress and a lifetime of this stress suppresses the immune system, sets you up for all kinds of illnesses. So, get rid of it. So what I do is as they’re watching the screen, I ask them to breath 5 in, 5 out, and while they’re breathing 5 in, 5 out, I ask them to focus on their heart…
Bill: Let me get some clarity on the 5 in and 5 out. Are you counting to 5 as you breath, is that what you’re saying? You’re counting to 5 as you breath?
Arlene: Yes, yes. And people at first, especially anxiety people, they’ll try if they can get to 2. Then we go to 2, then we move up to 3 because they’ll see that 2 doesn’t make that much change on that screen. It’s not making much change in the heart – a little bit, but not much. They will move up to 3, and they can move up to 4. And in about 5 minutes, I can get them to 5 in, 5 out. And I also have them focus on their heart, and I have them focus on something, an acronym I came up with that the HeartMath says but I call it LACE, and what the HeartMath institute says that if I can generate feelings of Love, Appreciation, Compassion or Empathy, anyone – and the easiest one I have found for people to conjure up is appreciation. It’s kinda hard to love people when you’re panicking, when you think you’re gonna die. But anybody can come up with “I appreciate the nice, warm coat I had this morning when I went out into the 25-degree weather.” The brain doesn’t care, the heart doesn’t care what I appreciate just so I have the feeling.
Bill: And it has to be something that you really appreciate?
Arlene: Oh yeah! It has to be real. But you can always find something to appreciate. I can appreciate my cat was purring when I walked by. So we focus on feelings of appreciation. You can also remember a time at the beach and how wonderful you felt, and you can bring that picture up too! You do the deep breathing and watch the screen, and sure it enough, it doesn’t take long enough for someone who’s been panicking for years and years to get this nice, smooth sine wave up and down, and up and down, and I’ll say “What are you feeling?”, and they’ll say “My thoughts! My thoughts! The racing thoughts! They’re gone!” and they can see how they’ve immediately calmed down. Now, you know, once I shut the computer and have them turn around in their seat, it’s back. I mean, two minutes on or five minutes on, that computer is not gonna make it go away.
Bill: Well, what I hear you’re saying though is that by them seeing it graphically, what’s going on with their heart, and by going through the exercises of deep breathing and appreciation, then they see that they begin to calm down and I see that as a foundation for them to work from to say “Hey, I can calm myself down!”
Arlene: Exactly! Now they’re beginning to get empowered. So they can see that for the first time, they’re really able to have control over their heart, over their breathing, over their brain. And now I have a lot of different techniques that I use. I recommend exercise, and when I recommend exercise, I can appreciate that when anxiety people start to exercise, sometimes the anxiety gets worse, because even if you don’t have anxiety, when you start exercising, your heart beats harder.
Arlene: Well their heart beats harder and they go “Oh my God! I’m having an anxiety attack!”. And now they’re afraid and they don’t wanna continue to exercise. So I help them to pace their exercise. When they’re resistant, I help them to work through the resistance. I help them to find an exercise that they’ll enjoy so that they can exercise. Also Bill, I can’t tell you how many people come in with anxiety discorder and I’d ask “What did you have for breakfast?”.
Bill: Hmmm. So diet plays a big factor?
Arlene: Enormous. Enormous. And the reason that it does is if you start out the morning with a cup of coffee, with 3 teaspoons of sugar and a donut, your insulin is way up! Well, when insulin goes up, cortisol goes up, and you know my favorite saying is “Cortisol makes you old long and fast enough! I don’t need that!” (laughs)
Bill: I don’t need any help. (laughs)
Arlene: And adrenaline goes up. So now that I’ve eaten all of these, adrenaline goes up, I feel pumped! And then a half hour later, it’s all crashing. But the problem is the insulin now is crashing and the cortisol is going down, and the adrenaline is going down, but it doesn’t take long for negative thoughts to kick in and I’ve been all pumped up with the adrenaline and it’s right back up again. You know, I don’t say low carbs. I say carbs that are natural, not from a box.
Bill: So you’re saying like fruits and vegetables?
Arlene: Right! Exactly! Fruits and vegetables exactly. Or the carbs that are in milk.
Bill: So I’m thinking Arlene, I hear about the panic attack and you feel like you’re gonna die. You feel the world’s coming to an end. What can you do right then and there? Maybe I can appreciate something if I’m in that state. I’m feeling so helpless that I need your assistance. What would you go to immediately?
Arlene: The first thing I want you to do is to believe that it’s body – that these are body reactions, that you are not going crazy. I’ve had a client who lived in terror that she was gonna kill a baby, and she wasn’t around children! She did not even babysit. But that’s what the brain will do.
Bill: So how does that correlate with the body if you just said it’s in the brain and there’s no baby around, and she’s afraid of killing a baby?
Arlene: Well, she believes that she has these kinds of thoughts, she believes she’s going crazy, and it never enters her mind that it’s body.
Bill: I got you. Okay.
Arlene: So what I tell her: “Go sit on the sofa. Go sit in a quiet place and focus on your body.” First of all, when I focus on my body, I can’t focus on all the negative thoughts and all the worries. It kinda shifts my focus. So now I’m focusing on my body. And what I tell people to do is find out where in the body the worst feeling of anxiety is. Sometimes they’ll call it anxiety, and they’ll sometimes experience it as pain. Sometimes they say the pain is in their heart, sometimes they’ll tell me it’s in their belly, it’s in their chest. So what I’ll have them do is focus on that, and imagine a laser beam of light. We’re not doing white light healing. The light is like you sort of go to a lecture and you got the laser pointer. Imagine a laser pointer and point to the place where you’re feeling the most tightness, the most tension, the most pain, the most anxiety.
Bill: So you’re getting very specific here? That’s what I’m thinking.
Arlene: Exactly. Focus on that point and tell yourself “I can take the feeling.” Because what people learn, especially in Western culture, is that when something bad is happening, when there’s pain, avoid it at all costs. The Eastern culture learns talks about entering into the state you’re already in. Well what I want you to do is immerse yourself into the feeling that’s happening and find where that laser beam of light is pointing, push against it, and if you feel and stay focused on that, the brain has a natural way of healing that pain. It knows what to do if you focus. But we never give our brain a chance because we keep running away from it.
Bill: We don’t listen to the body.
Bill: We get into our heads, we get into worry and panic, instead of focusing on what’s really happening in the body, and when you calm that down, it will…
Arlene: Well it won’t come down. What it does is it’s very sneaky. If you focus on your belly if it’s there, and you do the work and it lets go? It will run up to your chest. And then if you focus on your chest, and the it will run to your solar plexus. But if you keep chasing it around, it finally figures out that you’ll gonna chase it till its gone, and it gives up.
Bill: Hmmm. That’s interesting! Because I would think that, uh…
Arlene: Yeah, I would finish what you’re saying, because what you’re saying is I would think that if I stayed focused on it, it would get worse. But paradoxically, what makes it worse is I’m afraid I’m going to have an anxiety attack, and doing everything to avoid it. And when I tell myself “I have good skills, I can breathe deep, I can feel the feeling and go through it and allow it to release itself, I can exercise and my body is in shape, I can change the way I eat.” and one other important thought, “I can change my negative thoughts.” You know, of all the techniques I’m giving you, that’s the hardest one. It’s easier to make myself exercise and to make myself deep breathe, even if I keep forgetting to deep breathe, I tell people, like put post it notes all over the house, and sooner or later people get into the rhythm of it. But the negative thoughts, it’s like we get so enchnated with these thoughts, that a negative thought comes like “Oh my God! The plane is gonna crash!” and then I say, “Really? Well, where is it gonna crash?”.
Bill: It’s snowballs.
Arlene: Right! And we like, we just get preoccupied. And one of the things that I’ll suggest for negative thoughts is put a rubber band on your wrist. And everytime a negative thought comes, snap it. Don’t snap it so hard that you’re torturing yourself, but just a little bit – to just give you a little reminder. Another thing I’ll do when I get them is I’ll turn it into something positive because if I have negative thoughts and then I get “Oh, darn! There’s these negative thoughts getting in my nerves!”, then that creates anxiety. Because any kind of negativity, even if it’s negativity against the negativity.
Bill: It’s still the brain doesn’t know that’s the negativity.
Arlene: Exactly! So what I’ll do is when I get the negative thought, I’ll use it as a cue to deep breathe.
Bill: Can you give us an example of it?
Arlene: Of a negative thought?
Bill: Of turning a negative thought into a positive one.
Arlene: When I moved into my house, after I moved in and got into my bedroom, I realized that I could hear the trolley cart. When I’m in bed to go to sleep at night, and I’m going like “Oh my God! What did I do? I’m never gonna be able to fall asleep. I can sell this house now. This is a mess!” So I said, “Everytime I hear the trolley cart go by, I’m gonna use it to take 5 deep breaths.” You know, I start looking for the trolley cart because it was a really important skill I was learning and soon I’d never hear the trolley cart anymore and I was better at deep breathing.
Bill: That reminds me of using the red light when you’re in traffic as a cue to breathe.
Bill: When you’re mad and you’re stuck in traffic, and you say “Well, this is my signal to breathe!”
Arlene: Exactly! It’s a perfect example of turning a negative thought into something positive. It’s the most effective way of eliminating negative thoughts. Bill, I just would like to take a moment to talk about pain. I talked about psychic pain and what to do with that, but they’ve done research on real pain. People with cancer or arthritis, and when we have bouts of anxiety, the pain gets worse. Well we have enough pain that we don’t need to make it worse. So what they found is when you use techniques to make the anxiety go away, the pain diminishes.
Bill: Do you find that women are more anxious than men? I mean stereotypically, you would think that? Is that the case?
Arlene: Well, there’s more women coming into my office wanting treatment for anxiety and panic than men. And the difference is women are allowed to be scared. Women are allowed to be sissies.
Bill: So as men, we don’t allow ourselves to be scared?
Bill: We don’t admit that we’re having panic attacks?
Arlene: Right. But you’re born with sensitive nervous systems too just like the women are. You get life events that are traumatic just like women, only you learn to grin and bear it and get a heart attack than women. So the whole culture needs to look at people are just people, and when you feel scared and you have anxiety, you need help.
Bill: Well it makes me think that when we’re talking earlier about sensitivity and thinking about men and women, and I can hear a husband saying to the wife “You know, you’re just too sensitive!”
Arlene: You know Bill, I grew up with that. My whole family said I was too sensitive. I’ve been doing therapy for 25 years, and I’ve turned my sensitivity that used to be too sensitive into an art, and it’s been an incredible benefit for me.
Bill: So can turning that negative connotation into a positive thing, your sensitivity is a good thing.
Arlene: Exactly. In nature, there are animals in Africa, I think it’s the antelope. They have found that there are 10 percent of the herd that’s more sensitive than the others, and will start stampede to run before the others know what’s going on. And when they do research on super-sensitive people, 10 percent of the population is more sensitive than other people. And if you remember at the very beginning of the interview I said the lights are too bright, and the sound is too sound, the cold is too cold – these are super-sensitive people, and super-sensitivity can be like super-intuitive, that when you walk into a room, super-sensitive people can have a sense of who they are before other people do, and start reacting to take care of themselves more than other people. But if you’re an anxiety person, and somebody walks into the room, and your heart starts pounding, and instead of saying asking intuition “What do you know?”, they go “Oh my God! I’m going crazy! What’s the matter with me?” and one of the benefits of the therapy is I teach people to reframe their anxiety disorder into a gift, because once you can control your anxiety so it never comes back again, you start recognizing that that little heart when it starts up is talking to you.
Bill: It’s telling you something.
Arlene: Exactly! And you start tuning into intuituion, and becoming more and more sensitive to these deep, inner senses, these inner knowings. Even inklings – you know Bill, sometimes we get an inkling that has no language, but you just know. Don’t go down that street.
Bill: I’ve certainly experiened that.
Arlene: Right! Well if you’re full of anxiety and panic and you say “Don’t go down that street.” and you say “I have to toughen up, I have to go do it!” and you get down that street and get mugged. But when your anxiety is gone, and you feel that inkling, you go “I’m not going down that street! My heart is telling me to stay away!”
Bill: And you just walk away and you don’t create that worry, that anxiety.
Arlene: Exactly! The HeartMath Institute did some research on, well, not necessarily HeartMath people, there’s more nerve pathways from the heart to the brain, than there are from the brain to the heart. The brain will tell the heart to do something and it won’t listen. It has a brain of its own. Sometimes the heart knows something and it starts ticking a little faster, and when I learn that that’s not my anxiety, I’ve conquered it, that’s behind me. That’s inklings. And now I start looking at “What are you trying to tell me heart?” and even if the heart won’t talk, the inkling says “Don’t go there!” Then I said, “Okay!”.
Bill: And you know. Well in dealing with the anxiety, you’ve mentioned several ways that we can do that, and not once did you mention medication. Are there certain cases where people really have to be medicated to deal with their anxiety?
Arlene: Often people come to me and are ready on medication. I’m not a doctor, and I tell people “Go to your doctor and work with him.” When I start these treatments and they feel better, the doctor takes them off of medication. People who don’t treat for anxiety through these kinds of techniques are often taking medication forever because they never learn to stop the negative thoughts. They never learn deep breathing. They never learn to feel the feelings and go with it. So they’re continuing with all of the same negative behaviors and start taking the medication.
Bill: I see.
Arlene: But again, so many times, I won’t say a lot, but on occasion, the anxiety can mimic a real problem. So when a client comes to me with anxiety, the first thing I say is “Go for a checkup.” and if the doctor says medication, do what the doctor says and do this, because believe me, when people are better, I’ve never met anybody, you know you hear people addicted to Valium or Xanax, never found, that’s kids! I never found an anxiety. You know, there are adults too, and I have never found an anxiety that said “I love medication!” Never! They say “Get me off of this as fast as you can!” and I tell them the doctor will get them off of it, but I’ll help to get rid of these symptoms.
Bill: Well it’s making me think about going to the doctor and having all of these symptoms, does depression have anything to do with this?
Arlene: Well, when you’re scared year after year after year with panic, heart-pounding, feeling out of control, the brain finally like kinda “I’ve had enough of this, and it feels like helpless and hopeless!” and the depression is like one of the final stages of anxiety. There are people that have depression and don’t have anxiety for whole other sets of reasons, but there are other people for year after year after year.
Bill: Which can lead to depression?
Arlene: Yeah! Just like you’re depressed if you have arthritis for a year. It’s just like, “I can’t do this anymore!” You feel down. Bill, another stage of anxiety is called ‘hypochondriasis’, and it’s got a bad connotation like a hypchondriac, but what’s real is that people with anxiety, they have sweaty palms, they get jelly legs like they’re afraid they’re gonna fall down, their heart is pounding, they have trouble breathing. They really believe they’re sick and nobody can get a diagnosis for them. So what they learn to do is any little thing that’s happening in their body they learn to focus on it, like “Oh my God! Am I getting lung cancer? Am I getting a heart attack?” and as this goes on and on and on, they become more focused on their health and more concerned about their health than other people, so you call them a “hypochondriac”. But Bill, when anxiety goes away, that goes away.
Bill: Mmmm. So they’re not…. they’re actually just more sensitive to what’s going on in their body?
Arlene: Exactly, and suffering so long with it. And I say when the anxiety go away, people don’t believe that that can happen to them, but these techniques are very specific, well-researched, and I can never promise a cure for a hundred percent of the people, but I can promise that for many of my clients, the anxiety went away and never came back. For many of my clients, the anxiety went away, it came back, but now they have all the skills, they can now make it go away. For many of my clients, it never goe3s away but it’s not severe, it’s manageable. And I have clients that quit the therapy because they don’t want to change the way they eat, they don’t want to exercise, there’s too much work to stop the negative thoughts, and they don’t wanna change the breathing. Well, people do what they do.
Bill: Mmmm. So you have to work at it?
Arlene: That’s right! This is no kind of talk therapy where you sit and you tell the therapist what’s happening, and the therapist says “Oh my, isn’t that awful?” That’s not how this works. This is all about coming to me, telling me what the issue is, and giving you homework assignments, and coming back, taking a look at “Did you do it? Didn’t you do it?” and it’s not high school where if you did not do the homework you fail, this is about “You didn’t do the homework. Let’s study, what got in the way of doing homework? What kind of changes do we have to make in lifestyle or the way you’re thinking so that we can get you where you want to go?” And this does not go away in one or two sessions. Really, it takes around 2 to 4 months to really make significant changes. I give people anxiety tapes, and if they play those tapes – like a 10-minute tape – like 5 to 10 times a day and do these things, I’ve had in 3 or 4 weeks, and the anxiety is gone, and now they get cocky and they don’t want to come back, and some of them don’t, and two to three months they call me, “It’s back!” They didn’t really . . . you have to learn and re-learn and re-learn till you’re sick of it. You’ve got to really integrate these techniques.
Bill: Well it sounds like to me it’s not just learning the techniques, it’s making it a part of your lifestyle.
Arlene: Exactly. Exactly. Living like people who don’t have anxiety. And when you talk about benefits, that’s the benefit – you get to live like people who don’t have anxiety!
Bill: And that’s what it’s all about?
Arlene: Exactly! You get to have the exciting relationship you want, you feel free enough to take the risks that you want to take in your job without saying “Oh my God! If I become the supervisor, I have so much anxiety, I can’t do it!” You get a goodnight sleep so that you don’t have racing thoughts when you go to bed, wake up at night with a panic and wake up exhausted. You have a goodnight sleep and wake up refreshed. You’re happy again, you get a life!
Bill: Imagine the person with that anxiety out there going “Man, there’s hope for me here!”
Arlene: Exactly. I’ve done it for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people.
Bill: Well Arlene, I appreciate you sharing these skills and these things we can do to help anxiety and give us an insight on that.
Arlene: Well, it’s my joy if one person listens to this and relieves some anxiety for five minutes. They suffer so much that it’s just worth it to me, and I feel privileged that I have the opportunity to reach out to people and share what I know.
Bill: Thanks Arlene.
Arlene: You’re welcome Bill. Thank you!
Bill: Thank you for listening to this interview with Arlene Foreman, a licensed psychotherapist located in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Arlene has had the great privilege of being invited into the lives of hundreds of individuals all around the Philadelphia area who suffer from anxiety. If you’d like more information on Arlene’s services, please refer to this website: https://www.anxietytreatmentcenter.org/
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