Back to Best practice

Overcoming anxiety through Positive Behaviour Support

Beth is a young woman with learning disabilities who used to experience extreme anxiety.

Before working with Dimensions’ Positive Behaviour Support team leaving the house was a challenge, but now she volunteers on a local farm with the public.

Beth used to get very anxious about being out in the community. When leaving the house, she would pull her hood up and put her head down. She coped with her anxiety by being verbally abusive to people around her, causing more stress.

To help Beth overcome her anxiety, her support staff introduced Positive Behaviour Support; a structured approach to understanding and tackling the root causes of behaviour that challenges. They enlisted a specialist Dimensions Behaviour Analyst to help and, in just a few months, Beth’s confidence increased and her challenging behaviour reduced.

By taking small, gradual steps Beth, started to be more active in her community.

A key milestone was a trip into town, alone. To prepare her for the journey, her team built up to it in stages, teaching Beth the bus routes, waiting for her outside shops and encouraging her to manage her own money.

With her newfound self-belief, Beth asked if she could volunteer to work with animals, remembering that when she was young she used to love petting the rabbits at her local farm. Her support staff knew how to prepare her for it and now, every week, Beth mucks out the pigs and feeds the new born lambs at the farm.

Beth is now much more confident, less anxious and does what she enjoys.

Our analysis below outlines the approaches and outcomes achieved for Beth.

Overcoming anxiety

  • Support from Behaviour Analysts
  • Structured approach
  • Identified triggers
  • Gradually addressed triggers
  • Step-by-step approach

Increasing confidence

  • Small, measured steps
  • Detailed plans
  • Improved communication
  • Encouraged independence
  • Consistent support

Before and after comparison

Before

  • High levels of anxiety
  • Reclusive
  • Challenging behaviour
  • Verbally abusive

After

  • Independent
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced challenging behaviour
  • Increased social confidence

Key outcomes

  • Volunteers at local farm
  • Friends with colleagues
  • Independent trips into town
  • Beth is happier

Key data

  • Challenging behaviour significantly reduced
  • Anxiety levels significantly reduced
  • Improved social skills