How Do You Help Clients Struggling with Political and World Anxiety?

Jeff Guenther on Aug 19, 2018

I’m a therapist and most of my clients are feeling overwhelmed with our current political climate and other major stressful events happening around the world. My white clients are mainly struggling with feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. My clients of color are typically struggling with fear, increased experiences of racism, anxiety and helplessness and powerlessness as well. And of course, I’m freaking out about all this craziness too. I’m figuring out ways to cope with my own anxiety and feelings of wanting to take action. One of the things I do to manage the feeling of wanting to make a difference is by creating this therapist directory that focuses on inclusivity and social justice. But I still struggle with a sense of not doing enough and feeling like the world might end. 

Living and working in Portland, Oregon you can probably imagine that all my clients are progressive and left leaning. And that would be the correct assumption to make in my case. And because of that I don’t get to have vulnerable conversations with people that are conservative and/or Trump supporters. But that is something that I’d love to experience. With that in mind, I’d like to list some things I have done to help my clients deal with today’s unique stressors. 

Before I get to that, one thing to keep in mind is that I am a white man who recognizes the privilege that I am afforded based on my gender and skin color. I mention this because it limits me in certain ways when counseling my clients of color. I am not able to fully understand and empathize with their experience. However, it is something that I strive to more fully understand and comprehend on a daily basis. But I know that there is probably some degree of “white centering” when I counsel my clients. 

If I suggest that a client of color not tune into the news or read anything about politics and current events, then they will have a different outcome compared to me or a white client. Personally, I can try my best to tune out everything that’s happening in the world and I can be pretty successful. However, a person of color isn’t going to have the same “success” because they can’t do anything about the color of their skin and how society is going to react to their skin color. So whether they like it or not, they are forced to confront injustice, intolerance and racism more than me. So it’s not as easy for people of color to tune everything out by just going about their day and not checking their news feeds or listening to talk radio. 

Sorry for all the caveats. I feel like I keep straying from my main goal of wanting to list suggestions for clients that are struggling. While I do want to list what I have done, I also want to hear from fellow therapists about what they have done to help clients get through this crazy and scary time. Please email me at [email protected] so that I can include your interventions in my next blog post. I am hoping to create a long list of suggested coping skills for clients. 

My suggestions for clients facing anxiety and fear about current events

The following are some suggestions I have given to my clients. Some of these ideas are contradictory. Which makes sense, because different things are going to work for different people. 

  • Volunteer with a local political group or organization that addresses something you care about.
  • Donate money to a cause or politician that you align with.
  • Start a blog or write guest posts on other websites to educate people about important things that are going on and should be paid attention to.
  • Make art.
  • Join marches and protests.
  • Register people to vote.
  • Read more books, articles and publications from smart people that know what’s going on.
  • Gently challenge family or friends that seem a bit clueless or brainwashed. But stop if it causes anxiety that you feel overwhelmed by.
  • Practice meditation.
  • Create an exercise routine.
  • Find support groups with people that are struggling with similar issues.
  • Turn off all the news and focus on fulfilling hobbies.
  • Keep talking about your stress with me, your therapist.
  • Double down on self-care.
  • Figure out what you are skilled at and see if you can use that skill to help people that are being effected by the current climate.

I know there are tons of great suggestions that therapists have come up with for our clients. Again, I would love if you shared them with me so I can feature them in my next blog. You can give me a bulleted list of things you’ve done. Or you can give me a more detailed case description of someone you’ve helped on an individual level. Shoot me a message at [email protected].

TherapyDen is different

TherapyDen does things differently. We have a mandate to fight racism, homophobia, transphobia and hate of any kind. Click here to learn more about creating a free profile during our beta period. We need therapists like you to sign up for our directory so that we can take on the big guys in our industry. The only way we can achieve that is to get more counselors to create profiles. So if you haven’t created an account or activated your membership, please consider doing so. Every therapists that signs up gets us closer to reaching clients who can’t find what they are looking for on the other therapist directories. Thanks for reading :)

And did I mention that you get to add this snazzy little web badge to your website when you activate your profile? DISCLAIMER: Displaying the badge is not a substitute for actively creating an inclusive and safe environment in your practice. Display the badge AND accept and support all clients.

Jeff Guenther, LPC, is a therapist in Portland, OR. He has been in private practice since 2005. Jeff is the creator and owner of Portland Therapy Center, a highly ranked therapist directory. Jeff, and his team, have launched a new progressive therapist directory, TherapyDen.

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