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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5762
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have an anxiety disorder and Ive been going to a therapist.

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I have an anxiety disorder and I've been going to a therapist. She has been trying to get me to do relaxation exercises and "go to a happy place" pretty much. I haven't been doing it as much as I should and I feel guilty about it. Is it wrong that I feel like it won't work? When my anxiety cranks up I don't think anything like that could actually help me. Is that proven to actually make a difference?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 4 years ago.

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.


Every person is different in what works for them in therapy. Some find that going to a happy place works and others feel they don't find it helpful. It all depends on you.

If you have not given it a full try, then you might want to do that first before deciding. First, be sure that you know from your therapist what she feels a happy place might be. That sounds kind of simplistic, but it is easy to misinterpret, especially if you have a background that had abuse in it or other trauma. So ask your therapist to explore the idea of a happy place with you.

You also want to be sure that at this stage you have the tools to help keep yourself calm enough for the thoughts of a happy place to work. If you feel too anxious and can't focus, trying to think about a place that makes you happy is not going to work, and may further frustrate you. But if you are able to relax at least a little then think of a good place, it may be more effective. And try not to be too hard on yourself. It may work sometimes and other times you may not even be able to consider it.

Going to a happy place in your mind can work to further relax you. It does take practice. What I sometimes recommend is thinking of the details of the place rather than just a place. For example, if you find a beach peaceful, think about how the sand feels in your toes, really sit with the sensation of the breeze in your hair and allow yourself to "taste" the salt water. It helps your mind preoccupy itself and just by default you relax.

But if you have given this technique a try and don't feel it's helping, you can always tell your therapist that you need to put it aside for a while and work on other techniques. You can always come back to it later, or you can look for something that is more compatible with what works for you.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
She has had me do similar things. Engaging all senses in my "place" and deep breathing.

I think I'm just so discouraged I think nothing will work, so why bother trying? Or if I try really hard and something doesn't work that I'm failing. So it would be best not to even bother. I realize that sounds a little nuts :/

So I should just try to get all gung ho about it?
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 4 years ago.

Anxiety can often make you feel like nothing works. But the more things you try, the more chances you will find something that works.


Try the happy place technique and give it at least a month or so. That way, you learn how to do it and even if it fails to help, you may be able to pick it back up in the future when it will work for you. And try not to feel too discouraged. You are doing all the right things. Therapy is the most effective treatment for anxiety. So you are bound to come out of this feeling better!



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