Rhett Smith 79: Why the Distinction Between Anxiety and Fear (and worry) is So Crucial, and How the Restoration Therapy Model Helps Anxiety/Part 1
Last weekend I had the humbling opportunity to speak at the first ever Restoration Therapy Conference which was held at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. When the founder of the model, Dr. Terry Hargrave asked med to present on anxiety and the Restoration Therapy model, I knew it was an invitation that I couldn’t refuse. I consider Dr. Hargrave not only a mentor, but also a friend, so I definitely wanted to participate in anything he was doing. But I also knew I would be anxious for several months leading up to my presentation. And I was. But it was a great time to be with a bunch of other therapists and researches who are on the ground floor in the ongoing development of the Restoration Therapy model.
I won’t go into details in this post since you will hear more in this episode. But I’ve been using Restoration Therapy as my primary therapeutic model since about 2010 when I was first exposed to it co-leading marriage intensives at The Hideaway Experience in Amarillo, TX. I did not know the model as Restoration Therapy at the time, but rather as The 5 Days to a New Marriage model…and essentially, the Pain and Peace Cycle model.
But no model has changed my life more than this one. And no model has helped my clients more than this one. I have experience and training and proficiency in a lot of different models, but I believe this is the best one out there for a lot of reasons…many of which I will go into in this episode.
This is a 2 part episode, and in these episodes I explore the concept of anxiety and how it differs from fear…and why that distinction is so important. I look at what anxiety is and how to define it. I talk about how to normalize anxiety for your clients and reframe it as an opportunity for growth. I talk about how to get at the roots of anxiety using the RT Model and understanding the work of the Pain and Peace Cycle. I talk about how to take the Pain and Peace Cycle and practice it daily to create transformation. And then I talk about the important tools and resources that can help people manage their anxiety.
But for now, what you must know is this. In the Restoration Therapy Model, anxiety is not a feeling, but rather a coping behavior. We don’t feel anxious, rather we become anxious. We do anxiety. But there is some other feeling that drives the anxiety. And that’s important, otherwise we could end up just chasing the relief of the symptoms (though important), rather than dealing with the root issues of anxiety. Keeping that in mind, it’s important to understand that anxiety is about issues concerning individual(love/identity) and relational personhood (trust/safety). And they are about “ultimate concerns” in life such as faith, life, death, purpose, meaning, relationships. Whereas, fear is about specific situations and circumstances.
So as I spell out in these episodes, my fear growing up was speaking in front of people because I would stutter. But my anxiety was that I would feel inadequate, be alone, not measure up. And I spent most of my life trying to relieve my fears (speaking), rather than understanding and dealing with my anxiety (coping behavior) and what was at the root of it, which was those feelings of inadequacy (feelings).
It may not seem like an important distinction at the outset, but actually has huge implications in terms of one getting healing when it comes to their anxiety. And I think you can see this distinction play out both in faith and biblical perspectives, as well as psychological and secular perspectives…so I address these integrative pieces as well.
So whether you are a therapist, lay counselor, pastor, friend, spouse, parent, colleague….who wants to help someone with anxiety…or whether you are trying to help your own anxiety…these episodes are for you.
Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.
People and Resources Mentioned in the Episodes
Restoration Therapy Model — in Episode 21 I talk about Restoration Therapy and how I use it for my work with individuals, couples, churches and organizations.
Restoration Therapy Conference
Terry Hargrave — in Episode 55 I interview Dr. Hargrave
Pain Cycle (this is Episode 42)
Peace Cycle (this is Episode 43)
Steve and Rajan Trafton
The Hideaway Experience
The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith
The Concept of Anxiety by Soren Kierkegaard
Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard
The Meaning of Anxiety by Rollo May
Be Not Anxious: Pastoral Care of Disquieted Souls by Allan Huge Cole Jr.
Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety by Kelly G. Wilson and Todd Dufrene
The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich
Existential Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom