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Discuss the Relationship Between Stress, Anxiety, Habits and Phobias and Describe How You Would Treat These Issues with Hypnotherapy

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In this essay I shall seek to define stress, anxiety, habits and phobias. I shall explore their

individual attributes and symptoms and how they may be related. I will also explain methods

of treatment for such neurotic conditions, as I have seen fit and the ethical issues that I

believe would need to be considered.

Stress and anxiety are often coined together, almost into one phrase; where there is one, you

will find the other. However there is a distinction between the two and as a therapist it is

crucial that one is aware of this. Stress is a response to an external stimulant, resulting in

feelings of frustration, anger and/or indeed, anxiety. Stress is in fact a biological reaction to

outside pressures. These pressures can vary from work, family, or social changes, to simple

changes in one's environment, to major life changes. All these situations stimulate the age

old "fight or flight" response, thereby pumping the body with adrenaline and heightening the

senses in preparation to respond. Of course this is not such a negative reaction, indeed in

evolutionary terms it would have been this very reaction that has allowed the human race to

continue to exist and flourish, however, there is a point at which this ceases to be healthy and

begins to have negative consequences. As a result, stress is categorised into six varieties.

These vary in the severity of their implication to the individual. Hypostress is when a person

is stuck in the monotony of life and thus finds themselves bored and unmotivated. Eustress is

that stress which everyone will be familiar with and which is considered healthy and

necessary. It is what motivates and drives people to meet their deadlines, goals and

challenges. Acute stress is that which causes tension and physical disturbances. Episodic

Acute stress is a more severe form of acute stress and has symptoms similar to that of

hypertension, migraines, stroke, heart attacks and gastrointestinal disorders. This can be

treated with therapy but may take up to six months and will often need medical intervention

too. Chronic stress is a very serious state and is linked to cancer and other life threatening

disease. Whilst it can be treated, due to its seriousness it can take years to treat successfully.

Finally there is Traumatic stress which will usually have been brought about by a seriously

stressful event or situation and will need a multi-disciplinary team to treat. (Module 5 Notes.)

Prolonged bouts of stress may in turn result in feelings of inadequacy and poor self-esteem.

In such circumstances a therapist would need to work with the client on building their selfesteem

too as the implications of these are far reaching as well; impacting negatively on

motivation, learning, time-management, sleep and sexual function.

As has been mentioned, anxiety may be a symptom of stress, but is distinct from stress in

that stress has a recognisable stimulant. The cause of stress is usually clearly identifiable.

Anxiety born out of stress may be termed situational anxiety. Then there is that type of

anxiety which has been referred to as 'existential anxiety', and this is the anxiety which is

distinct from stress (Knight). This is anxiety which is the result of a fear or apprehension

which does not always have an easily identifiable source. In fact one may even be able to

go so far as to say that it is 'all in the mind' or as Hadley and Staudacher put it, 'Anxiety

actually arises out of your thoughts. In a given situation, it's the thought of potential danger,

not the actual danger that produces the symptom of anxiety.' Dryden and Heap state that

anxiety is essentially, 'a learned and anticipatory' response to any distant or even imagined


Both stress and anxiety are natural responses from the artillery of responses the human

is equipped with. They are both necessary and vital to ones existence and survival.

Nonetheless, if either stress or anxiety begins to exceed the levels that are safe and beneficial

for the client, and start to impinge on their psychological and even physical well being, then

this is when professional help would be required. While they are distinct, stress and anxiety

are closely related. It has been clearly illustrated above that anxiety is often born out of

stress, and can perpetuate the stress, which in turn feeds the anxiety. There is between them

the potential for a downward cycle of degeneration.

From the consequences of anxiety is that the client may begin to avoid certain situations, in

the hope that this would relieve them of the negative feelings they experience. In doing so

the client allows themselves to believe that avoidance of a given situation grants them relief

from their condition, thus reinforcing their avoidance. If perpetuated over a long enough

period, this may result in a phobia of the situation, person, place, animal etc that they are

avoiding. The subconscious mind is a literal



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