Tips for Helping Friend with Anxiety from Psychologist

As a clinical psychologist, people ask me a lot of questions about psychological well-being, both on social networks and in the IRL. I recently invited my Instagram followers to ask me questions via the Stories feature, and I’ve received a lot of answers. Here is a recent query that hit:

Take me? If you like this scenario, let me start by saying that the pursuit of being a good friend is an absolutely admirable quality. If you have a friend who is afraid, it is quite reasonable to feel a desire to help, especially if it affects your quality of life and friendship. That said, I have some important tips that I encourage you to consider before taking action.

Give your friend space to express their experiences.

If a friend says you don’t understand what she’s going through, you might consider agreeing with her.

So invite her to tell you more if she wants. This will help you confirm your experience, feel misunderstood and hopefully set the stage for more communication and understanding.

Remember that there is a fine line in the middle of helping and allowing.

Helping means being supportive by being a good listener and receiving them within reasonable limits. Activate goes beyond “reasonable limits” and prioritizes the needs of the other over yours, to the point where you are actually supporting behavior that is not good for any of you.

If a friend is constantly after or cancels plans at the last Minute, to the point where you (naturally!) if you are very frustrated, you may be able to re-evaluate how you form plans together. Consider letting your friend know that you would like to spend time with her, but if, due to your current situation, it is too stressful to stick to the plans, then you would prefer to have spontaneous meetings if she is sure that she is ready for it.

Depending on your relationship with your girlfriend, you might also mention that if your fear makes it unbearable to hold plans that are normally part of a healthy social life, it might be time to at least consider talking to a professional to make sure she gets the support she needs.

Remember, you do not need to have all the answers.

While it’s great to listen and be available, you don’t have to pretend to be Omniscient to be a good friend. If she says talking with you is not helpful, gently tell her that you understand how frustrating the Situation must be.

Then explain that you would like to help more, but think that perhaps the most useful thing you can do is help her find a therapist so that she can get the knowledgeable, professional support she deserves. If fees are the barrier, they could offer to help him deal with “low-cost therapy services,” as there are many community-supported programs.

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