Stafford psychologist pens book for children on managing anxiety
FREE LANCE-STAR | by ADELE UPHAUS-CONNER
In her work for the past 20 years, psychologist Arezoo Khanzadeh has asked her patients three questions about the problem they’re dealing with:
- “Is this solvable?”
- “Do I have the means to solve it?”
- “Is the timing right to solve it?”
She encourages her patients to think about solving problems with those three questions because it can put the issue in its proper context and potentially relieve anxiety.
“Those three questions really help the person to kind of navigate through that worry,” she said.
“For example, if I’m in a session, I might start to worry about what I’m going to make for dinner,” said Khanzadeh, a therapist who practices in Stafford County. “That is solvable and I do have the means to solve it—there’s plenty of food in my pantry—but the timing isn’t right because I’m in a session.”
Over the years, her patients have asked her to write about the technique, Khanzadeh said, and now she has, in “My Magical Three That Sets Me Free.” Subtitled “A quick intervention for anxiety,” the book, which is available now from publisher Archway as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, is written for children, but can be used by anyone.
“It can be applied at any age and it’s a very specific type of technique that can be used anywhere with anyone—that’s the great thing about it,” Khanzadeh said. “It’s something you can do for yourself or you can help someone else go through it.”
Khanzadeh, who works with patients of all ages and focuses on trauma, anxiety and mood disorders, has used her three-question technique successfully with children as young as 5.
She said it’s important for children to learn how to manage anxiety at an early age.
“I feel like if we teach younger children how to work through their anxiety, as they get older they’ll have that skill set and it’ll be ingrained in them,” she said. “We should start teaching our little ones how to manage it.”
Khanzadeh said she and other local providers have experienced a huge increase in patients suffering from anxiety since the pandemic struck in March 2020—and it has made clear the need for more therapists in the area.
“We’re trying to accommodate everyone. I’ve been very busy. I work from 9–5, eight hours straight, and I don’t even have a lunch break,” she said. “We’re really trying to make sure we’re meeting the needs of our community. We just need more therapists in this area. We have great programs in the community, we just need more of it.”
Khanzadeh hopes her book can be a tool people use on their own to alleviate minor anxieties.
“Those are the ones that if we can address them, they won’t turn into something massive,” she said.
Khanzadeh said some people will struggle when they get through the three questions and realize the problem isn’t solvable, but that’s what therapy is for.
“That’s the difficult part for many, and that’s where, with therapy, you learn how to let go of the things you have no control over,” she said. “That’s what anxiety is. We get anxious about things we don’t know or have no control over.”
Khanzadeh has other self-care tips for her patients that she practices herself.
“I’m very active in my child’s life. I make sure that I do my walks in the evening. And I really set good boundaries between work and personal life, which is something I’m constantly telling my patients to do,” she said.
She’s also involved in a creative project that has a global mission and impact—the Peace Dove Project a nonprofit founded in 2017 that promotes peace through the arts.
Participants make paper doves to distribute around their communities to spread a message of peace. The Peace Dove Project’s theme for 2021 is women’s rights and Khanzadeh has made 1,000 paper doves featuring the image of Alicia Partnoy, who spent several years as a political prisoner in Argentina in the 1970s and now works as a college professor and human rights activist.
Khanzadeh is working with local businesses Katora Coffee, Italian Station and Yellow Bike Massage as well as Micah Ministries and Mental Health of America to distribute the doves.
“The idea of it is just spreading peace and kindness and compassion,” she said. “It’s something I do because I’m a big believer in love and compassion, and that can always overcome hate.”