Agoraphobics and those with social anxiety and shyness issues are often searching for more self-help tools and strategies to help them better manage their anxiety. Often, they are highly motivated to overcome their anxiety, but are afraid of venturing out of their safe zone. Online counselling and therapy provides a convenient and effective solution.

Most of the clients that I work with in the office or online through Skype are highly motivated to make changes in their lives and want to overcome the root cause of their anxiety or depression. They want to get better, but don't know how to work with the underlying core emotions that keep them trapped in cycles of emotional suffering.

As a specialist and author in mindfulness, I find that when clients learn what mindfulness is and how to apply it in their lives they find completely new ways of processing their emotions that allows them to break free and start a path to recovery that allows them to develop to their full potential in the ways that they want to be. Mindfulness is empowering when properly taught and diligently practiced.

How does mindfulness work? At the most basic level, mindfulness is learning to recognize habitual patterns of cognitive reactivity – the backbone of anxiety disorders and depression. This negative self-talk, based on negative beliefs constrains and imprisons us. It has such power over us, yet most of us are not really aware of it. We feel the results sure enough and we suffer because of these habitual reactions, but what we don't know is how to relate to them as objects in the mind, which is quite different to simply becoming seduced by them over and over again. We need to go fishing and take the initiative to catch these negative thoughts before they catch us. This is the first part of mindfulness therapy that I describe in my book "The Path of Mindfulness Meditation" as the Recognition phase.

Each moment of recognition introduces a brief but highly significant space; a space in which we have a moment of freedom and choice. This can be developed and cultivated; something not possible when we remain unaware and blind to our reactivity. For an agoraphobic, learning to become an objective observer of their inner thoughts and emotional reactions is essential. We have to begin to step out of our habitual mode of thinking and step into a wider dimension that we call the dimension of pure awareness – the natural state of knowing mental objects instead of reacting to them. Each moment of mindfulness is a small but powerful victory, and with each conscious encounter, we strengthen the mindfulness muscle and increase the amount of time we spend as the observer, rather than being imprisoned in the observed.

The faculty of mindfulness, like the incredible observational skills of the hunter or scientist can be developed through practice, and this is largely what I teach when I work with clients online through Skype. But, as I frequently point out, this is not the end of mindfulness practice but just the beginning. When clients begin to create a space around their anxiety or deep worry, the emotional reactions that keeps them imprisoned, the emotion begins to respond in direct proportion. It starts to become malleable and fluid. We say that it regains plasticity and starts to unfold and change in this therapeutic space provided through mindfulness.

Many agoraphobics that I have worked with are surprised to discover intense imagery at the core of their emotional complex, and frequently this imagery encodes the emotional energy that powers the negative beliefs, reactive thinking and worrying. As I have described in some of my other articles, experiential imagery is a very rich medium to work with, because it is tangible, and as the imagery is allowed to change, so too will the emotions. But for change to occur, there must be space, inner freedom and awareness; all provided by this remarkable property of mind that we call mindfulness.

Peter Strong, PhD is a scientist, author and Buddhist Psychotherapist, based in Boulder, Colorado, who specializes in the study of mindfulness and its application in Mindfulness Psychotherapy for healing the root causes of anxiety, depression and traumatic stress.

Besides face-to-face therapy sessions, Dr Strong offers Online Mindfulness Meditation Therapy through Skype and email correspondence. Teaching seminars are available for groups and companies.

Visit Email inquiries welcome.

You can purchase a copy of Dr Strong's book ‘The Path of Mindfulness Meditation' through AMAZON.

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