By Mike McMahan, LPC
Kudos to singer Ellie Goulding, the voice behind hits like “Lights” and “Burn”. She gave a recent interview in which she discussed a number of interesting topics, including past struggles with anxiety and panic attacks.
It’s hard for many of us to believe that a creative, successful, attractive woman like Ellie could have any problems—let alone mental health struggles. But this is a great reminder that mental health struggles are equal opportunity and can strike people of any income, race, gender, religion or success level. Ellie stated that “not being able to leave the house was so debilitating. And this was when my career was really taking off. My surroundings would trigger a panic attack, so I couldn’t go to the studio unless I was lying down in the car with a pillow over my face. I used to beat myself up about it.” Though everyone responds differently to symptoms, this is a typical feeling for people to have prior to attending therapy.
Ellie praises the therapy she received, noting “there were a couple of times after I released Delirium when I was doing promo and thought, Oh god, it’s coming back, it’s coming back, but it didn’t. I think my body has become quite good at controlling anxiety.” It’s great to hear from someone who has attended therapy as I too believe it works and can be quite transformative and does not have to be ongoing or re-visited later in life. If a client embraces the process it can produce a lifetime of change.
One thing I found especially interesting is that Ellie is aware that she received Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) from her therapist. Many clients are unaware that therapists have different theoretical orientations. A theoretical orientation is the set of research-based philosophies that therapists use to structure treatment. A lot of people think that therapists “just talk” but this isn’t true—at least with ethical, competent therapists. I have written on previous occasions about my own theoretical orientation (Brief Solution Focused Therapy and Narrative Therapy), but CBT is growing in popularity and may even become the “gold standard” for the field. Put simply, CBT works to combat negative thoughts patterns and automatic thoughts that may dictate how we respond to certain situations. The therapist helps the client recognize how they are responding based on how their brain has been conditioned and respond in a new way. This has been shown to be highly effective.
If you are experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, please speak with your primary care physician or a mental health professional.
Mike McMahan, LPC is a psychotherapist based in San Antonio, Tx.
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Therapy Goes POP
Perspectives on therapy and mental health as viewed through the lens of popular culture