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Taming the beast - anxiety workshops for teens

A little over 12 weeks ago I responded to a plea on Facebook for a group, or 'something' for teenagers struggling with anxiety. The response by other FB members to this plea was incredible and I could see, quite clearly see, that parents wanted something. Something, I thought, I could offer.

Running a workshop on anxiety for a group of teenagers with anxiety is pretty anxiety provoking in itself and as I paced the hall in anticipation that first Sunday morning, I was filled with both excitement and equally, with dread! Slowly my willing teens arrived, and we sat together, introduced ourselves and began our journey.

Eight weeks later and our workshops have come to an end. I am aware of the space those kids have taken in my heart, aware of how I will miss them and aware of how incredibly brave they were. We all started out on a journey not particularly sure where we would end up but all of us having the hope that they would feel so so much better than they did before they started.

In our time together they showed me their vulnerability, their fear and their courage. They used art, mindfulness, drama and each other to explore what their anxiety was like for them and gave each other help, support and new ideas of what they could do in certain situations to cope. They were kind and respectful to each other (and me!) and readily engaged with all the tasks set them despite their anxiety - and sometimes it was really, really hard for them.

Now they feel they have a greater understanding of what anxiety is, and that they are better able to cope, armed with a set of tools they can use when they need to. What they seemed to learn the most though is what was actually possible for themselves - how strong and resilient they could be - to be able to confront things they otherwise may never have.

At the very end of Sundays workshop, I invited them to say goodbye to each other properly, to make sure nothing was left unsaid. For me this was the most amazing part - each one of themwillingly telling the other members of group how much they had enjoyed being with and sharing with them, how important their time together had been.

I did not expect the workshops to go as well as they did. I did not expect to be so impacted and learn so much from these kids, but I did. To know that they go out into the world feeling stronger and less scared is amazing and what I wanted to achieve, but what I didn't expect was for them to teach me as much I as taught them!

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