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:

  • focused on immediate, realistic problems
  • can exercise control
  • greater focus on the problem
  • can try out solutions and shift if not successful
  • willingness to tolerate risk and uncertainty
  • higher level of self-efficacy in coping
  • lower anxiety

Unproductive Worry:

  • focused on distant, abstract problems
  • feels out of control
  • greater focus on the negative emotion
  • can’t accept solution because it isn’t a guarantee of success
  • relentless pursuit of safety and certainty
  • perceived helplessness to cope with outcome
  • 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.

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