Coping in psychology is defined as how a person consciously invests strategies to help manage their stress. I have been experiencing more and more people wanting coping skills. Its is not an easy task. The definition seems simple but like everything in life it takes practice and self-exploration. When people find what is making them stressed, depressed, anxious, etc. they often ask the therapist, “Well how do I manage these issues?” If you and I get a good therapist the therapist will say, “I don’t know.”
Trial and Error
I know an answer, “I don’t know” is not desired by anyone in any situation. We as therapist are not the ones to give answers. The philosophy of therapy is to build an authentic relationship with the person. This authentic relationship will give the person his or her comfort, trust, confidence to be open about how they want to cope. The journey for a coping technique(s) may or may not be an easy one. Therefore, the therapist and client must be patient in the process. During this time of trial and error there may be difficult times. A common theme I see is frustration, which is understandable. After all, if a person has been surviving with whatever they are dealing with for a period, it is no wonder why they want a coping technique(s) in a hurry. They just want the feeling of what they have been surviving with to go. Take caution in the trial and error piece of finding a technique(s) and don’t get discouraged you can do this. Do not be afraid to ask for ideas from your support system and bring them to therapy. Your therapist can help guide you in self-discovery.
Technique(s). Yes there is MILLIONS!!!
I am writing Technique(s) often because it is not always just one technique that works for someone. During or after trial and error you may discover that there can be multiple technique(s)/strategies. People come in all the time during the trial and error stage of coping exploration and say, “Hey Joey I found out that when I have stress during work my squishy ball helps me out a lot, but when I am in a crowd my breathing technique work better.” In two different environment different techniques helped this person get through the day. In other situations, with other people it, is possible only one technique/strategy will work.
For a couple of years, I had this one Veteran that would have trouble breathing when she was in public. The trouble breathing was due to social anxiety. She explained it has her chest becoming tight, getting tunnel vision, and her heart fluttering fast. In some situations, her anxiety was dangerously close developing into an anxiety attack. Later, she discovered that it just wasn’t in social situations but in all anxiety areas. We worked on recognizing her heart when anxiety was rising. When the sensation of her heart fluttering became noticeable she would stop and focus on breathing. Her breath gave her clarity to access the situation and discover what was giving her anxiety in the moment. While these strategies/technique(s) worked for these people there are millions of coping strategies.
That is right MILLIONS!!!! When people hear coping strategies/techniques they think of conventional “cliché” coping techniques that were mentioned above. The stress balls, the breathing techniques, the meditation, etc. AGAIN NOT ALL SIZES FIT! Anything can be a coping strategy/technique(s). Reading is my personal favorite coping technique. Not my usual educational books about psychology but a good novel, or fictional book. It really helps me get my mind off things and just go somewhere else, submerging myself in an adventure I can’t have. Currently I am reading Red Sparrow trilogy. I think in another life I was a secret spy. Anyway, don’t give up you have your therapist and other support systems that are there for help.
Stop the Coping
Coping strategy/technique(s) should not be in replace of therapy. Think of coping like a healthier alternative to medications. It helps us get through the day, so we can live socially normal lives yes. However just because they can get us through a day does not mean the psych is completely healed. A person who uses breathing as a technique simply uses it to get a somatic response. Somatic meaning a body response from the psych. When the body starts to feel ok the anxiety gets pushed back into the parts of the psych. We need to continue to go a therapist with a new pocket of tools to discover the reason we need these coping skills. When we work on the issue that is making us use coping skills, eventually we will be healthy enough to not use the coping skills anymore. If you complete the cycle of change and find that the coping skill still has a somatic response use it. At this point though if you are using the coping skill for the bodily sensation, in my belief it just becomes an enjoyable activity.
Your coping strategy/techniques
As a therapist I am always wanting to hear new ideas and strategies. If you have a technique that you would like to share, please comment. It will not only help me but your fellow readers.