The Anxiety Ladder

Beth relives her military trauma. Clutching her purse nervously, gazing at the floor, she walks with me to my office. After suffering an assault while on base while serving overseas,  she admits she is reluctant to tell her story.   Pressured by her husband  to seek help,  she now comes in for therapy,  She describes her anxiety, like scrambling up and down a ladder.

Working as a teller at a bank,  she says she stays tense, scanning the lobby area, and looking out the window constantly. She becomes more edgy at 5:00 pm, when she leaves work. She relates her most recent  episode. “After making a bank deposit, approaching my car, I heard footsteps behind me.  My heart pounded, as I quickened my pace. My shoulders tensed, and my hands trembled;   I gasped for breath and began to sweat.  I thought, ‘Someone is following me!’   I felt myself slipping into panic.  I spun around and saw Jake, the bank security guard.  Relieved, I breathed deeply. I relaxed, as I regained my footing. I knew I was on the ground.”

After building rapport with Beth, we begin to examine the frequency, intensity, and duration of her panic episodes. I hand her a form,  to track her anxiety for a week, with dates, times, and situations, when she becomes anxious. She agrees to complete this out of session assignment before our next visit. We begin the road to recovery.

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