Dan Lippmann LCSW. Practical, Sustainable Happiness

Beating Test Anxiety

When my kids were little, my wife and I were their managers. Then when they were teenagers, we woke up one morning and discovered that we’d been fired. After that, we had to work our butts off to get re-hired as consultants.

It wasn’t until she was 21 that my daughter finally re-hired me as her consultant. During the first semester of her junior year of college, she developed severe test anxiety in classes like physics and biochemistry. Reluctantly, my usually calm and collected daughter asked for help. So I taught her how to use my Mood Switch form, a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) tool for turning anxiety provoking thoughts into positive, reassuring ones.

Elise quickly got the hang of counteracting her upsetting thoughts and beliefs (I’ll panic if I can’t do a problem. I probably won’t remember what I need to.) with more realistic, helpful ones (Usually, when I skip a problem and come back to it, I’m able to do it just fine. I have a really good memory for details when I’m feeling calm and confident.) She then read her positive responses aloud to reinforce their power, and reviewed them several times a day.

After we completed the Mood Switch form together before a few tests, she began to do it on her own, and her grades soared. A few weeks later, I got a call from her and she told me she’d received a 100% on her physics final exam. The voice I heard on the other end of the phone sounded like the confident and upbeat person I knew her to be.

Although my daughter loves being independent and taking care of her own needs, she knows I’m on 24 hour stand-by if she starts to feel anxious. Secretly, I’m thrilled to be her consultant.

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