On a recent Sunday, Bari Hillman, who works during the week as a clinical psychologist at a New York mental health clinic, was perched at a clear, plastic desk inside a 16-year-old’s Manhattan bedroom, her shoeless feet resting on a fluffy white rug. Dr. Hillman was helping a private school sophomore manage her outsize worry over a long-term writing project. The student had taped the project outline on the wall above the desk, at Dr. Hillman’s prodding. It was designed to serve both as a reminder that the project was due, and an empowering indicator of progress.
Dr. Hillman mused about the way worry can morph into unhealthy avoidance, the cathartic power of deep breathing and the soothing nature of to-do lists.