Is your worry helpful?

Posted: Feb 16, 2016 in February 2016

I just returned from a fantastic training opportunity at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy.  Dr. Amy Wenzel, ABPP asked us to consider: “Can worry be helpful?”.  Discussion ensued around productive versus unproductive worry.  Check out the chart below and ask yourself, which category do my worries fall into?


Productive Worry:

Unproductive Worry:

focused on immediate, realistic problems

focused on distant, abstract problems

can exercise control

feels out of control

greater focus on the problem

greater focus on the negative emotion

can try out solutions and shift if not successful

can’t accept solution because it isn’t a guarantee of success

willingness to tolerate risk and uncertainty

relentless pursuit of safety and certainty

higher level of self-efficacy in coping

perceived helplessness to cope

with outcome

lower anxiety

higher anxiety

Clark & Beck, 2010


If your worries fall into the productive category, carry on with your problem solving strategies.  If you find the unproductive column is more consistent with your thinking pattern, this might be a good opportunity to learn some new coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety.