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November 27, 2013

Therapist could help conquer post-burglary fears

Q: My apartment was burglarized while I was away about three months ago. I have insurance (thanks, Dad!), so the financial loss isn’t significant. But I can’t shake my anxiety. I hate sleeping there now, and although I know that it’s unlikely someone will come back, that doesn’t make me feel any better. I feel panicky a lot when I’m in there alone. I try to remind myself that it’s not logical that lightning will strike twice, but I feel horrible and am considering moving.

Q: My apartment was burglarized while I was away about three months ago. I have insurance (thanks, Dad!), so the financial loss isn’t significant. But I can’t shake my anxiety. I hate sleeping there now, and although I know that it’s unlikely someone will come back, that doesn’t make me feel any better. I feel panicky a lot when I’m in there alone. I try to remind myself that it’s not logical that lightning will strike twice, but I feel horrible and am considering moving.

A: I’m sorry for the feelings of violation this must have brought. They’re understandable, but the fact that they haven’t improved after three months means you could use some help. Yes, you could move, but to the extent that this was somewhat traumatic in general, there’s no guarantee that you'll feel more secure just because you’ve got a different set of locks to look at.

A cognitive-behavioral therapist can help you develop a plan to feel better, not only by working through your feelings, but also by creating steps of mental and physical exercises to systematically lessen your anxiety.

Q: My fiance’s brother has been crashing on our couch for two weeks now, and it’s getting old. He’s trying to find an affordable apartment in the area now that his old lease ended and prices went up. He keeps awful hours because of his jobs (works at a bar) and always wakes us up when he comes in even though he tries not to. I just want our space back. But he is also the best man in our wedding so I feel bad kicking him out.

A: Given that this guy will literally be standing up for you at your wedding, you’re right that kicking him out is out. It also sounds like he’s doing his best to not be intrusive. So you help him, because that’s what family does.

But it doesn’t mean indefinitely or without boundaries. There should be a clear deadline (for his own good) as to how long he’s going to stay before enacting Plan B. And Plan B needs to be clear as well, whether it’s crashing with someone else, lowering his apartment standards or at least paying you rent. Your fiance should do this negotiating while you focus on starting your relationship with your brother-in-law on the right foot.

Andrea Bonior is a psychologist and author of “The Friendship Fix.” www.drandreabonior.com

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