Lighting the Path: Making Friends with Fear
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This thesis is a collection of essays that reflect upon the experience of anxiety as an emotional, mental, and physical experience as well as a relational, societal, existential, and spiritual phenomenon. I offer perspectives on how to address anxiety in helpful ways so that, rather than being a problem to be fixed, anxiety becomes a mechanism of change and growth. I employ different lenses when viewing anxiety including my personal experience, eastern and western philosophical and spiritual perspectives, humanistic and existentialist psychology, attachment theory, affective neuroscience, and the importance of emotional awareness and intelligence. I also include perspectives on therapy as sacred work. I suggest various ways in which therapists can help their clients transform the seeds of their distress into wisdom. I include reflective writing on my experience with anxiety and highlight specific factors in my own course of therapy that helped me to work with anxiety and evolve as a person. I make proposals about holistic therapeutic practices as being essential in working with anxiety. I depart from the medical model approach that focuses on diagnosis and solution-focused treatment designed to alleviate symptoms. I provide examples of therapeutic approaches that address the body, the emotions, and the mind, and point out the importance of engaging with the whole person rather than a diagnosis when working with anxiety. I also suggest that a therapist‘s willingness to engage in cultivating awareness and inner work is essential in becoming an effective clinician and companion through both the client‘s suffering and transformation. The importance of embodiment and mindfulness is explored throughout the thesis and I present the notion of therapeutic practice as a form of mindfulness in relationship. The writing and research draws on the qualitative methods of auto-ethnography, autobiography, literature research and other analytic methods.