Cognitive Behavioural Coaching: Dealing With Anxiety In The Workplace

The Office for National Statistics in 2006 estimated that 4.7 per cent of adults experience anxiety disorders at any one time and a further 9.2 per cent have a mixture of anxiety and depression. Panic disorders are related to anxiety and, according to the ONS study; seven people in every 1,000 develop one of these conditions.

There are various identified anxiety-based conditions:

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD stands for Generalised Anxiety Disorder and people who suffer with this form of anxiety feel worried all the time about almost everything. Many people describe it as a feeling of being tense, restless or on edge. People who suffer from GAD interpret many ordinary situations as threatening. Symptoms include trembling, feeling shaky, headaches, muscle tension or aching (especially around the neck and head), feeling hyped up, restless, getting tired easily, difficulty sleeping, problems with concentration, irritability and forgetfulness.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

People who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder describe feeling a compulsive urge to take part in ritualised activities. For example, checking locks and gas taps many times before feeling able to leave the house or being overly obsessed with washing hands or clothes or engaging in excessive cleaning. These behaviours are often accompanied by repetitive actions like having to check the gas taps in a certain way and for a certain number of times. If something happens to break this routine, the sufferer has to start the ritual all over again. If they do not fully complete their own particular ritual they experience and increasing level of anxiety.


Alternatively, some people are plagued by health fears. They are convinced, regardless of how many medical tests or reassurances are made, that they really are ill. For example, someone believes that the normal aches and pains experienced by most people at some time are due to cancer and so begins and continues a cycle of medical tests one after the other, going from one doctor to another, never being convinced that all is well.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post traumatic stress is often experienced following what is often termed a traumatic incident – this is when someone is involved in, or witnesses, an event that involves serious threat of death to a loved one or self. PTSD often happens when a person feels intense fear, helplessness or a sense of horror.


People experiencing phobias have an extreme fear of something specific. For example, common phobias include fear of dogs, cats, spiders, water, heights, small places, open spaces, blood, thunder etc. The fear experienced can be extreme and may severely limit an individual’s ability to function. Phobias are often accompanied by panic attacks.

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is another way of describing a condition in which people experience repeated panic attacks. A person experiencing a panic attack will experience a period of intense fear with a range of accompanying sensations including a pounding heart, trembling, shortness of breath, a choking feeling, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, a sense of not being real, a fear of going crazy or of dying. Some people may only experience one or two panic attacks while others may have them on a daily basis, varying in intensity from mild to severe.


Burn-out is the term used to describe someone who is suffering from extreme stress that tends to build up over a period of time. When we perceive a threat we produce stress hormones to deal with the situation. If a person finds himself exposed to stressful life situations for a prolonged period of time, burn-out can occur. One of the common symptoms associated with this condition is anxiety.

Even if individuals do not have a recognised clinical condition, many find themselves feeling excessively worried, anxious or fearful. For some, their anxiety only surfaces when asked to undertake certain activities, such as giving a presentation or attending a networking event, while others experience these feelings much of the time.

The best approach to dealing with anxiety is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the NHS have both recommended CBT as the treatment of choice when working with conditions such as anxiety.

In more recent years, many of the skills associated with CBT have been brought into the realm of coaching under what is called cognitive behavioural coaching (CBC).

CBC works in a holistic manner yet is based on sound psychological principles and works by examining situations, thoughts, emotions, behaviours and the effect that these have on individual physiology. By considering what an individual thinks about himself, the world and other people in general, and exploring how thoughts and feelings fuel anxiety, what triggers individual anxious responses and what strategies are needed to deal with these, the individual is enabled to think, feel and act in a healthier and more appropriate manner.anxiety coach

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