Information handout US English Fight Or Flight Fight Or Flight Description The fight or flight response is an automatic set of physiological and cognitive changes that are designed to aid survival in situations perceived as dangerous or threatening. It is extremely helpful for clients to understand the fight or flight response prior to engaging in exposure work for anxiety. Schauer & Elbert (2010) have described an elaborated account of these reactions as applied to trauma, but discussion limited to the fight or flight stages is often sufficient when working with anxious clients. The Fight Or Flight information handout has been specifically designed for younger children and includes carefully simplified language. The full pack contains variations on the worksheet, including a version which explains why these reactions occur and a version which invites individuals to describe their bodily reactions to frightening events. Information that is helpful for clinicians to be able to share is why particular bodily reactions are helpful responses to threat. The general answer to most bodily sensations is that “this prepares the body for action” but specific responses include: • “The heart beats faster to move blood (fuel, energy) to the muscles, this makes you better at running away (or fighting if you need to)” • “Breathing rate increases to move air (fuel, energy) to the muscles, this makes you better at running away (or fighting if you need to)” • “Pupils dilate to let in more light and improve visual acuity, this helps you to see danger better” • “The body diverts blood (fuel, energy) to the muscles and away from the digestive system, this makes you better at running away (or fighting if you need to) but you might notice symptoms in your tummy” Copyright © 2020 Psychology Tools Limited. All rights reserved. Instructions This handout can be used to stimulate a discussion between therapist and client. It is available in multiple versions, some with more information ‘up front’ and others which leave more space for exploration of the client’s experiences. Helpful prompts for discussion include: • “Do you ever feel any of these feelings?” • “What situations do you notice them in?” • “What sets them off?” • “What do you think about these body feelings?” • “When you notice these sensations what do you think they mean?” • “What does it say about you that you experience these sensations?” • “When you feel scared or anxious what feelings do you notice in your body?” • “When you feel scared or anxious what do you notice in your mind?” • “What do you think about?” • “What do you notice and focus on?” Therapists should aim to help clients to understand why these reactions occur. Therapists will need to adapt their explanation to the child’s developmental level and knowledge concerning physiology, but helpful questions include: • “If there was a lion chasing you, why might it be a good thing for your heart to beat faster?” • “If you were in a situation where you are in real danger would you want a brain that thinks slowly or quickly? Why?” References Cannon, W. B. (1916). Bodily changes in pain, hunger, fear, and rage: An account of recent researches into the function of emotional excitement. D. Appleton. Schauer, M., & Elbert, T. (2010). Dissociation following traumatic stress. Journal of Psychology, 218, 109-127. Copyright © 2020 Psychology Tools Limited. All rights reserved. Fight Or Flight When we encounter something scary or dangerous our bodies try to be helpful by getting us ready to fight or run away. This fight-or-flight reaction might make you feel strong feelings in your body and mind. Feeling dizzy Get cross or short-tempered Breathe quickly Feeling scared or nervous Feeling hot or sweaty Body or muscles feel tight Want to get out, run away, or hide PSYCHOLOGYT LS ® ‘Butterflies’ in my tummy Legs shake Copyright © 2020 Psychology Tools Limited. All rights reserved. Fight Or Flight When we encounter something scary or dangerous our bodies try to be helpful by getting us ready to fight or run away. This fight-or-flight reaction might make you feel strong feelings in your body and mind. Breathe quickly In scary situations we breathe more quickly to give more ‘fuel’ to our muscles. Get cross or short-tempered It is easy to get cross with people who we feel are getting in our way. Feeling hot or sweaty Bodies that stay cool by sweating can run away faster. Body or muscles feel tight Your muscles are ready to help you run away from danger. Want to get out, run away, or hide Running away or hiding can help you to stay safe if the danger is serious. PSYCHOLOGYT LS ® Feeling dizzy If we breathe quickly without getting active we can start to feel lightheaded. Feeling scared or nervous Strong feelings like fear get our attention – this is helpful if there are dangers nearby but distracting if they are a ‘false alarm’. ‘Butterflies’ in my tummy In scary situations your body sends more blood to your muscles and less to your stomach. Legs shake In scary situations your muscles get ready to help you run away from danger. They can shake in readiness. Copyright © 2020 Psychology Tools Limited. All rights reserved. Fight Or Flight In scary or dangerous situations our bodies and minds can react all by themselves to help us get ready. Write down a time you felt scared: What feelings did you notice in your body and mind? PSYCHOLOGYT LS ® Copyright © 2020 Psychology Tools Limited. All rights reserved. Resource details Title: Fight Or Flight (CYP) Language: English (US) Translated title: NA Type: Information handout Document orientation: Portrait URL: https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/fight-or-flight-cyp/ Terms & conditions This resource may be used by licensed members of Psychology Tools and their clients. Resources must be used in accordance with our terms and conditions which can be found at: https://www.psychologytools.com/terms-and-conditions/ Disclaimer Your use of this resource is not intended to be, and should not be relied on, as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are suffering from any mental health issues we recommend that you seek formal medical advice before using these resources. We make no warranties that this information is correct, complete, reliable or suitable for any purpose. As a professional user, you should work within the bounds of your own competencies, using your own skill and knowledge, and therefore the resources should be used to support good practice, not to replace it. Copyright Unless otherwise stated, this resource is Copyright © 2020 Psychology Tools Limited. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2020 Psychology Tools Limited. All rights reserved.