Before we dive into a seriously good conversation on anxiety, here’s some background information about Sam and Shannon.
Sam Becker, born and raised in Los Angeles, California, is a Mindset Business Coach and creator of Entrepreneur With… After suffering through mindset issues of his own for 10+ years, he finally decided to make ultimate changes necessary to “start” and create the life that he wanted most.
Today, he teaches the exact process that took him from ‘anxious and feeling completely incapable,’ to a confident entrepreneur, ready to take on any challenge -big or small.
Shannon Mick, NCC, LPC, CCATP, CTMH
Shannon is a National Certified Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor in Pennsylvania. She specializes in treating anxiety via telemental health.
On the side of being a professional counselor, Shannon is an endurance athlete mindset coach working with individuals and groups all over the United States. Ultramarathon running is her passion and she enjoys teaching people how they can strengthen their mind.
Shannon’s personal story, counseling sessions, anxiety and management
Sam: What is your typical process of getting to know what someone’s triggers or troubles are?
Shannon: During the initial session, I gather someone’s background information and listen to what they’re telling me is going on. Listening and asking questions are the base of identifying what someone’s triggers and troubles are. Sometimes, people already have good insight to what they’re experiencing, which is helpful. I know what patterns of behaviors and emotions to look for, and am able to identify how pieces fit together that someone doesn’t realize.
Sam: What is your own experience with anxiety? If you’re comfortable sharing. (Did you have any physical symptoms, what did it do to your life, etc.)
Shannon: My experience with anxiety is constant work. I noticed feeling frequently worried around the age of 18. I worried a lot about family health and how I could help. I spent a lot of time trying to control situations that were out of my control. I focused a lot on my problems and trying to fix them. Some of my problems were small, and some were distorted thoughts, made up or blown out of proportion by the anxiety. What you focus on is what multiplies. Over my 20’s, the anxiety gradually increased. I was married and working in the mental health field. Sometimes my behavior is to control and other times it’s to avoid because I’m overwhelmed. I was working at an agency as a counselor when the anxiety became at it’s worse. It wasn’t my fault that this occurred. It was the agency. I worked eight hours shifts without breaks, I couldn’t use the restroom. I was always expected to work, some days were 16 hours. I wore many hats. I was a counselor, nurse, dietitian, cook, and facility cleaner. It was ridiculous. I was grossly underpaid for having a Master’s degree and for being a National Certified Counselor. My voice was unheard and my work with my clients was unvalued by the overhead. You can see where this went. I earned my professional license and got out of there. At a price, my mental health was partially shot. In my 30’s I started my own private practice and was able to better manage the anxiety. I also developed insomnia from working at the agency, so I had to correct that, as well. It took six months! And at times, I still get it. All of this is how my nervous system reacts to a particular situation, trying to keep me safe. I’ve identified my own themes and triggers, which are too personal to share. Physical symptoms I’ve experienced over the years ranged from mild to severe. Tenseness in my body, all the way up to feeling like I was going to pass out and in tears. The severe end was when I worked at the agency. I was taking care of four to eight people all at the same time, but I wasn’t able to take care of myself. Presently, my symptoms are very mild. Distorted thoughts, worries, fears, issues regulating my body temperature, and muscle tenseness. Seems normal. My insight is good and I have a number of excellent ways to manage symptoms.
Sam: When it comes to anxiety with your clients, how do you help them through that?
Shannon: I provide people with knowledge about how our minds work, particularly anxiety, and how it shows up in our bodies. Once we know this, we can start working on awareness and acknowledging. Increasing awareness of our experience and understanding of what’s actually going on is crucial. Depending on the person I’m working with and their situation, I choose a therapeutic approach to teach them. The strategies that they need to learn and to apply, in order to best help themselves. I use a few particular therapeutic approaches, such at Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Person-Centered Approach, and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. I typically end up teaching people strategies and approaches from all of these. Therapy is deep and hard work, I emphasize the importance of self-care and working on what we discuss during sessions outside of them.
Sam: Last we spoke, we talked about how anxiety is not understood by most, whether its the person experiencing it or the person that’s never experienced an anxiety episode. What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to anxiety?
Shannon: The biggest misconception is that people with anxiety are perceived as weak. This is far from the truth. People with anxiety are battling it. They’re facing it. In order to manage it, we must acknowledge and confront it. We must allow ourselves to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Practice allowing yourself to adjust to the worries, fears and discomforts. It comes with time. People with anxiety are brave.
Sam: To your knowledge, what is actually going on when someone encounters anxiety?
Shannon: Everyone has anxiety, it is a built-in survival response. Fight, flight, freeze responses to situations are something that people are a little familiar with, which can help us know something about anxiety. From a neuroscience perspective, we gather environmental information through our physical senses, usually our eyes. Neurons or signals travel different pathways through our brains. Parts of our brains, like the cortex and amygdala, where anxiety comes from, interprets the signals. If there is a threat or problem detected, we respond. This is basic information, it gets much more complex. Luckily, we don’t need to fully understand neuroscience in order to help ourselves. People are usually concerned that something is wrong with them. That they’re defective in some way. In reality, the situation is usually that they’re not defective. They just need support in what they’re dealing with. The emotions that they’re experiencing are natural. The thoughts that they’re having come and go. Thoughts are only thoughts, not facts. Let’s get curious about what’s going on and start working towards goals.
If anyone is looking for information on the neuroscience and how to use it to treat anxiety, I highly recommend the book, Rewire Your Anxious Brain: Hoe to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic and Worry. It is both in-depth and comprehensive. I think that a big piece to rewiring the way we think is to first, understand it, at least a little bit.
Sam: So lets get into the business side of things now. You work for yourself, helping others through some really difficult moments. How did you build up the confidence with that to be able to just go for it and put yourself out there?
Shannon: It’s easier because I’m passionate about helping others and find mental / behavioral health fascinating. A ton of education and experience working with people are the backbone of feeling confident. Practice. Practice. Practice. I do my best and make sure that I don’t overload myself with work, so that I can provide the highest level of care to my clients. Since I’m human, there are times where I’m not 100% confident, I make sure that I revisit materials, learn something new, or consult with another provider. Sometimes imposter syndrome is a thing.
Sam: Where can we get in touch with you Shannon?
Shannon: I can only provide mental health / anxiety treatment services to people in Pennsylvania because that’s where I’m licensed, people who are interested in seeing if we’re a good fit to work together can get in touch with me through the contact form on my website. Shannon Mick, NCC, LPC (Finish Stronger Counseling) is the name of one of my businesses.
People are welcome to subscribe to my blog. I write about mental health tips and resources.
My second business is Finish Stronger Mindset Coaching. I work with endurance runners and athletes from all over the U.S.
Sam, thank you for helping me spread the word about such an important topic!