Brief strategic therapy for panic attacks is highly effective. This psychological intervention helps us to implement concrete and innovative solutions to break the circle of fear, rationalizing our anxieties and finally taking control over our life. The duration of therapy is, as the name indicates, short.
According to Montaigne, few things in the world are more frightening than fear itself. Those who suffer from phobias, panic attacks and that irrational fear capable of blocking and taking away meaning from reality know this well. Two situations can arise: on the one hand, one can be led to face the stimuli in an irrational and poorly targeted way.
The other case, perhaps the most problematic, is that of being assailed by the fear of losing control. It is the anxiety of reliving the extreme psychophysiological reaction that makes the person think they are having a heart attack and may even die. These dynamics, as is evident, lock the subject in a psychological prison.
Faced with this state, it is important to have a concrete, effective intervention that can improve the patient’s life in the shortest possible time. Useful and possibly quick solutions are needed, and this is where short strategic therapy for panic attacks comes into play.
The purpose of brief strategic therapy for panic attacks
Brief strategic therapy is a therapeutic, useful and original model, centered on solutions. It was developed by Giorgio Nardone and contains the theoretical foundations of Paul Watzlawick. Here are the pillars on which it is based:
- The aim is to help the person solve problems, apparently very complicated, in a simple way.
- The solutions that the patient usually use to deal with the situation are analyzed, identifying the wrong dynamics. It helps him to adopt new innovative strategies.
- The patient must gradually discover the skills and resources that until then he had ignored or forgotten. It is therefore not the specialist who has to offer “own solutions”. An alliance is established between expert and patient so that the latter discovers his potential.
- The therapeutic intervention lasts 20 sessions.
- On the one hand, it is aimed at eliminating dysfunctional behaviors. On the other hand, it serves to induce change in the patient, leading him to build a new personal and interpersonal reality.
The study conducted at the University of Michigan confirms the effectiveness of this therapy by claiming it is useful not only for panic attacks, but also in cases of social phobia, obsessions, psychosomatic disorders, depression, eating disorders, etc.
Strategic Brief Therapy for Panic Attacks
Brief strategic therapy for panic attacks consists of moving from dysfunctional to healthy homeostasis. It is based on the communicative exchange aimed at making the patient discover new paths to work on, moving away from the misleading mental approach used up to that moment. To do this, the following strategies are used:
- Ask the patient questions to define the reality of his problem.
- Make use of restructuring paraphrases. This technique, legacy of Paul Watzlawick, consists in the use of metaphors, aphorisms and other communication strategies that help the patient to become aware of problematic events.
- Brief strategy therapy is also aimed at evoking sensations in the patient. Experiences that instill in him greater security and stimulate change.
- The aim is to create an alliance between expert and patient in which the latter discovers the wrong strategies he has used up to that moment, so as to be able to start implementing more targeted responses.
Example of intervention
Here is a detailed example of a strategic brief therapy line intervention for panic attacks:
- Problem description phase. The therapist asks the patient how he reacts every time he has a panic attack. Through a series of questions, the person defines how he acts, what he thinks and if and what strategies he has used to deal with the situation.
- With the first sessions the person must perceive the need to initiate a change. As Einstein said: “ The madness is always doing the same thing expecting different results “ .
- Prescriptive phase. The therapist generates a paradoxical provocation so that the patient feels responsible for himself and initiates new behaviors. The use of the “logbook” is recommended to write the daily day, describe the arrival of a panic attack, the triggering cause, what you think in the meantime and how you react.
- In the following phase, the practitioner and the patient work on the corrective emotional experience. By discovering responsibility towards himself, the patient will have to voluntarily begin to control (and correct) the fear. He finally understands that to put out the fire it is not necessary to feed it, but to eliminate little by little everything that generates the combustion. The changes will slowly begin to take place.
To conclude, brief strategic therapy is currently one of the most used strategies for panic attacks. It is good to know that its purpose is not to understand why the problem exists, but how it works. On this basis, concrete and effective solutions can be found for each patient.