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Covid-19 Series. Q+A with WWTW Mental Health Therapist Ian Best.

Despite the disruption many of us are facing, WWTW are still here to support those who served. As part of our ongoing support, we've set up regular live Twitter Q+A sessions with our mental health therapists. This offers you the chance to ask any mental health question you might have.

In our latest session, WWTW therapist, Ian answered your questions about engaging in therapy, identifying signs of a panic attack and whether it's 'normal' to experience highs and lows during lockdown. 

We've picked out some of the key questions from the live Twitter Q+A and shared below:

Q. I sometimes think people think therapy is an instant fix. What would you say to people to try and reengage them and try to see the therapy through to the end?

A. I normally say, don’t prejudge, try to connect and open your mind as if you’re learning a new subject. If someone is reluctant to give therapy a real chance and they want "instant fixes" then there is some resistance to becoming more independent. I have experienced many people who have viewed therapy as a way to access a five point plan of attack rather than a broader process through which they become stronger and more capable. 

The old comparison to taking a complete course of medication usually has a positive response or you could make a more powerful comparison say with chemotherapy. Also, we never know what something might lead to, including therapy!

If someone can't see the point of therapy then possibly they might be in position where they could struggle to see the point in anything. If you were able to ask the right questions, then you might be able to get the bottom of the reluctance and find out the reluctance to embracing therapy more fully.

Q. Do you have any tips on being kind to yourself if you're struggling with mental health?

If you are struggling with mental health then you need to be kind to yourself more than ever! I guess you might feel as though you don't deserve it? If so, have you done something truly unforgivable? Even murderers are released from prison after time. 

Recently, I had a 30% pay cut enforced on me. I wasn't pleased and for a while I wanted to bang on about how this was unfair. After a while, I decided to take the pay cut, see how things develop and then maybe bang on sometime in the future. In other words, just be kind to yourself now, have the argument about the rights and wrongs later! 

Q. Is it normal for people’s mental health at the moment to peak and trough with highs and lows during this pandemic?

A. Not just now, yet always, mood shifts and "ups and downs" are the most common thing I have come across in almost 15 years. In the business, it’s referred to as "emotional regulation!"

I would always say, don't wrestle with moods, let them take their course and don't add further negative energy to them.

Q. Someone asked me the other day how or what can they do when they feel a panic attack coming on. Any tips?

A. Ask them..."How do they know that a panic attack is coming on", what do they recognise as the sign/symbol etc that a panic attack is about to happen and could that "sign" indicate something else? A sign like increased breathing can be the "sign" of a panic attack and that then they go beyond the point of no return, yet, if the "sign" of the panic attack can be investigated and checked out for reliability then the person could be in a better position to defeat it!

Q. If someone is worried about having telephone therapy as opposed to face to face, what would you suggest to alleviate some of their concerns?

A. Well, take your time, don't feel as though you have to live up to anything, the therapist should be there do to their best for you! And, share your concerns with the phone therapist.

Q. What you would say to anyone who has tried therapy before but thought it had not worked for them?

A. There are so many variables involved with any instance of therapy and many of them can be make or break! There is never the "perfect" time just a more ideal time. If someone has had a negative therapy experience and is thinking of a second attempt, I would definitely encourage them to inform any potential future therapist of the prior experience. 

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