Sarah Steventon - Psychotherapist For High Achievers Anxiety & Stress Expert Specialist in Extreme Pressure Environments Central London & Cotswolds


What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal, but unpleasant, part of life, and it can affect us all in different ways, and at different times. Whereas stress is something that will come and go as the external factor causing it comes and go, such as a work situation, a relationship or money problems for example.

Anxiety is something that can persist whether or not the cause is clear to the individual.

Anxiety can make a person imagine that things in their life are worse than they really are, and it can spread, so that it ends up impacting on all areas of someone's life. Often they will think they are going mad, or that some psychological imbalance is at the heart of their issue.

What is important is the recognition that Anxiety is normal and exists due to a set of bodily functions that have existed in us from our
caveman days. Back then, we were equipped with an internal alarm system designed to protect us from the dangers surrounding us in the wild. This system would make us hyper-alert by giving us a boost of adrenaline that would increase the heart rate and boost the amount of oxygen going to our limbs so we were better able to fight or run from danger.

This is known as the “fight or flight” response. The “butterflies in the stomach” feeling that many associate with anxiety is this mechanism kicking in, but instead of being used to avoid immediate danger, it is often wrongly and inappropriately activated in a person during normal, everyday situations when stress has built up, often unknowingly.

Some people have a very identifiable cause for their anxiety. It can be caused by a traumatic incident, or someone experiencing a significant life event, like moving house, getting divorced, having surgery. However, some people don’t have an identifiable cause, or at least they are not aware of what is causing it.

Some of the most common anxiety is health anxiety. This can be exhausting, and very distressing as someone consistently feels that there is something wrong with them. Having Health Anxiety can mean you start to worry that a headache is a brain tumour and any pain means that there is something seriously wrong with them.

Anxiety Attacks & Panic Attacks

Have I got Anxiety? What is an Anxiety attack?

As a psychotherapist that specialises in anxiety, these are two of the questions I get asked the most. Some of the common physical symptoms of anxiety are:

Increased heart rate
Increased muscle tension
“Jelly legs”
Tingling in the hands and feet
Hyperventilation (over breathing)
Difficulty in breathing
Wanting to use the toilet more often
Feeling sick
Tight band across the chest area
Tension headaches
Hot flushes
Increased perspiration
Dry mouth
Choking sensations

You may on occasion experience a panic attack - which can feel like any of the following:

Thinking that you may lose control and/or go “mad”
Thinking that you might die
Thinking that you may have a heart attack
Feel sick and like you might faint
Feeling that people are looking at you and observing your anxiety
Feeling as though things are speeding up/slowing down
Feeling detached from your environment and the people in it
Feeling like wanting to run away/escape from the situation
Feeling on edge and alert to everything around you

Unfortunately, once you have one panic attack, it can then produce a run of them, just because of how the brain works, however the good news is Panic Attacks can be sorted out fairly simply.

Anxiety is not something you should have to manage - so this is not 'anxiety management'. I am able to work with my clients to actually alleviate the anxiety, and stop it in it's tracks.

There are many anxiety conditions, such as:

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Panic Attacks
Panic Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Phobias of any kind including Agoraphobia, Claustrophobia, Fear of Flying, Fear of public speaking
Health Anxiety - constantly worrying you have something wrong with you
Social Phobia/Social Anxiety
Post Natal Anxiety

Anxiety medication can actually sometimes exacerbate the symptoms.

If you are suffering with Anxiety, please get in touch by completing your details on the contact page and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Fear of Public Speaking

The number one phobia in the UK is fear of public speaking, or performance anxiety.

Sometimes one visit is all that is needed to resolve a simple phobia such as this.

A specific phobia is a type of anxiety disorder defined as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. ... Although people with specific phobias realise their fear is irrational, the thought of these fear alone is often enough to cause tremendous, debilitating anxiety.

"One of the most common issues I deal with is the fear of doing presentations or having to stand up, or in fact sit down and talk to a group of people, which can sometimes constitute any number more than a couple of people - essentially any time when there is a focus on the individual. This is a phobia that can easily be resolved, often in just one visit.

This isn't specific to junior roles. I have helped many Managing Directors, Chief Execs, and business owners, who have either always had a fear of public speaking or have actually never felt worried or fearful about standing up in front of a group and enjoyed presenting, and then out of the blue they are finding themselves feeling nervous of speaking in front of people.

When the structures within the brain that are involved in threat detection, recognise a fear pattern from a previously uncomfortable situation, such as being made to read in front of a class, or forgetting the line in a school play, it automatically prompts the release of hormones such as adrenaline, to deal with this new encounter.

So you need to working with this area of the brain, the parts that control the 'fight or flight' response.

This part of the brain controls systems that don’t require conscious thought such as breathing, perspiration, heart rate and liver and kidney function as well as the hormone system. And in fact your conscious brain actually is alerted to the threat, after the detection has taken place - which is why you cannot control the reaction with your logical rational brain!

During the process the client is helped to create an artificial freeze response which a really interesting technique. This stops the fear response in its tracks, by repeating the freezing action.

It’s extremely popular with clients because they don't even have to expose themselves to the subject of their fear as they do in other psychological therapies.

It can be used for various sources of anxiety including a fear of medical and dental procedures, or stress reactions from past traumas.

The added advantage is that it doesn’t require a lengthy course of treatment like some psychological therapies do therefore making it extremely fast to see the results.


Often, anxiety, depression and anger can be the physical and emotional manifestation of a trauma earlier in life – something which we may not even consciously recognise as influencing our emotional wellbeing. In some cases, this trauma has had such a significant impact on us that our clever subconscious has buried it out of sight. Trauma of any kind unfortunately can lead to PTSD.

PTSD is a very misunderstood, misdiagnosed and mistreated condition. Psychology overcomplicates the neurology, psychology and psycho-physiology of PTSD.

We commonly associate PTSD with war veterans returning from conflict but PTSD is a manifestation of an anxiety disorder in which a definite 'catalyst' is identifiable.

When PTSD sufferers are provided with a clear explanation of the science, it immediately makes sense to them.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/PTSD - Is the name given for a diagnosed Anxiety based condition when a person has undergone an extreme traumatic event or number of events. This has become synonymous as a war specific condition however also widely diagnosed for as result of severe accidents and terrorist incidents. Its symptoms include frequent vivid stressful, frightening memories and flashbacks in re-living the event, insomnia, emotional instability and survivor guilt to name a few. It invariably has a substantial affect on a persons ability to function normally.

We are able to deal with the extreme emotions that drive the memories and flashback, we can't change history, but we can most certainly assist the sufferer in removing the heighten responses, so that life returns to a more normal functioning one for the Client.

PTSD is only unique amongst the disorders in that there is an identifiable catalyst.

Psychology focuses on identification of the catalyst and utilises therapies which address the catalyst repeatedly in a treatment session structure. Sufferers find that temporary reassurance can be gained from discussion but CBT 'talking therapy' style therapeutic devices can and will only serve to perpetuate the condition and the memory of the initial catalyst.

Many clients come to me after having had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), or other types of therapy without success. Some tell me that they found it was helpful for a short while, however their symptoms returned.

Unwanted behaviours or self-limiting beliefs originate in the non-conscious part of the brain – and that’s where we need to target therapy, not just by talking to the conscious mind.

The types of therapy I use, such as BWRT is different because it works with the non-conscious brain and is consistent with current developments in neuroscience.

Utilising these specialist techniques, created to specifically achieve fast recovery means the client sees outstanding results in a very short space of time.


The feeling that is involved in OCD travels 50 metres in the brain before it reaches conscious awareness and by the time we are aware of it, the process for compulsive action has already happened.

BWRT® works in the early part of the brain to change response patterns before they reach consciousness. The OCD trigger is caught and stopped in it’s tracks preventing it from firing up again in the future.

Using two levels of BWRT® to target both the triggers and behavioural elements of OCD, provides long lasting results without the need for any ongoing coping strategies.

The benefit is that it is easy to understand and an extremely logical process.

This process uses 'Neuroplasticity' also known as 'brain plasticity', which is the ability of the brain to change continuously throughout an individual's life . This is the same process used when we learn - and it's fast.

Therapy is available in person and online by Skype.

©2024 Sarah Steventon London — powered by WebHealer
Website Cookies  Privacy Policy  Administration