Panic Attacks Essay
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Beryl’s father had died 5 years ago and her mother had recently been diagnosed with having dementia. Beryl was seeing her GP on a regular basis, seeking re-assurance with chest pains. She had undergone a number of medical tests and her physical health was good for her age. The Assessment Beryl reported that she first experienced panic attacks as a teenager, and could remember difficult arguments with her father. Her GP prescribed medication for anxiety and panic attacks when she was in her early twenties, during a stressful time in her work environment, being married with 2 small children and running a home.
The work situation was not resolved and Beryl was eventually made redundant. She remained at home, looking after the children and her husband. Beryl’s father died when she in her thirties, which left Beryl feeling responsible for her mother, who could not adjust to losing her husband. The Approach Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) was selected because it can teach the client how to replace negative thinking with positive thinking and uses cognitive exercises to dispel irrational beliefs.
In the initial assessment, there was clear evidence that Beryl wanted to make a change and she was keen to engage in homework tasks. She was able to focus on the relevant issues for therapy and her treatment goals were discussed and agreed. At times of increased stress for Beryl, a vicious cycle was activated, involving fear, physical symptoms, catastrophic interpretations of bodily sensations, and safety behaviours. Treatment work addressed the panic attacks which, in turn, led to a shift with the agoraphobic symptoms. The validity of Beryl’s catastrophic interpretations was tested out through discussion and ehavioural experiments. Alternative non-catastrophic thinking was introduced and safety behaviours were identified and decreased. Throughout therapy, Beryl was encouraged to keep a diary to identify her unhelpful thinking which led to her negative feelings and behaviour. She was also encouraged to talk about her fears which enabled Beryl to see that they were unfounded. Conclusion Due to Beryl’s high level of motivation, therapy progressed well and only 8 sessions of REBT were appropriate to bring about lasting change.