Understanding Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a type of anxiety that causes intense fear and anxiety in social situations. People with social anxiety disorder may feel self-conscious, judged, or scrutinized by others, making it difficult to engage in social activities or even perform daily tasks.
Recognizing Social Anxiety Disorder
People with social anxiety disorder may experience a range of symptoms, including:
- Intense fear or anxiety in social situations
- Avoidance of social situations or enduring them with intense fear or anxiety
- Excessive anxiety that’s out of proportion to the situation
- Anxiety or distress that interferes with daily living
- Fear or anxiety that is not better explained by a medical condition, medication, or substance abuse
Coping with Social Anxiety Disorder
While social anxiety disorder generally requires help from a medical expert or qualified psychotherapist, there are some techniques that can help handle situations that are likely to trigger anxiety. These include:
- Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation
- Gradually facing feared social situations
- Challenging negative thoughts and beliefs
- Joining a support group
Counseling for Social Anxiety Disorder
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is an effective treatment for social anxiety disorder. In therapy, individuals learn how to recognize and change negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is particularly effective for social anxiety disorder. CBT helps individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs, and teaches skills to manage anxiety in social situations.
At Bellevue Family Counseling, other types of therapy to help might include Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Lifespan Integration Therapy or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR. Many of our counselors provide these and other tools to help. Email us if you need some help choosing a counselor.Learn More
EMDR & Trauma
Trauma in its many forms and intensities can have a profound impact on an individual’s life, from low anxiety to a range of psychological and emotional difficulties. Thankfully there are modern treatments that are both fast and effective. One is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or “EMDR”.
Originally developed in the 1980s by Francine Shapiro, EMDR therapy has become widely considered to be one of the best treatments for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, and the Department of Defense. It is a form of psychotherapy that helps alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) .
What is EMDR?
EMDR is a structured therapy with eight steps that encourages the patient to briefly focus on the trauma memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation, typically eye movements. Unlike other treatments that focus on directly altering the emotions, thoughts, and responses resulting from traumatic experiences, EMDR therapy focuses directly on the memory and is intended to change the way that the memory is stored in the brain, thus reducing, and eliminating the problematic symptoms.
This process is believed to help the brain reprocess the traumatic memory in a more adaptive way, leading to a reduction in the distress associated with the memory.
EMDR can help with:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, and social anxiety/phobia
- Depression: EMDR has been proven to reduce rumination in patients with traumatic grief and may be helpful with depression
- Eating disorders
- Performance anxiety
- Personality disorders
- Grief and loss
Counseling with EMDR
EMDR therapy is done in a safe and controlled environment, leading to a reduction in the distress associated with the memory. Therapy is typically delivered one to two times per week for a total of 6-12 sessions. The focus of therapy involves attention to three time periods: the past, present, and future.
EMDR therapy is less stressful than other forms of therapy because it focuses on processing and moving past your trauma, rather than changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue. EMDR therapy is effective for children and adults of all ages.Learn More
Have traumatic experiences in your past?
Are painful emotions overwhelming you?
Do you turn to substances to cope?
Do addictions control you?
Past experiences can cause real pain. When you can’t escape the resulting emotions from those experiences, even if it was years ago, many will turn to substances to ease that emotional pain. Trauma can lead to a reliance on and even an addiction to substances. Trauma becomes a gateway to addictions, which makes life even more difficult.
What is trauma?
Trauma is defined as an emotional response to a shocking event like a terrible car accident or a violent experience. Immediately after the event, the sufferer typically experiences a jolt to their physical and emotional system. Their brain must store and be able to recall the experience in order to protect from potentially similar experiences. Trauma can be a one-time event. It can also be “complex” when the experience happens over and over.
Unfortunately, as life continues the sufferer can be highly sensitive to reminders or have flashbacks of the event accompanied with the same intense emotions as though it’s all happening again. This “re-experience” can include physical symptoms like chronic fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and gastrointestinal issues. The resulting experience is overwhelming and miserable.
What is addiction?
Addiction here is defined as any substance, thing or activity to which one seeks out repeatedly despite negative consequences. This can be anything from gambling, shopping, going to the gym, using alcohol, nicotine or illegal substances. Through these external substances or activities, a need is getting met. The need to escape the pain! This activates the reward and reinforcement part of the brain creating motivation to continue even though there are strong reasons to stop. If you want to read more, here is an article at Psychologytoday.com that goes further into addiction
What to do?
If you’re using substances or activities to numb or distract yourself from the pain of trauma and want to stop, it’s challenging to know where to begin. Giving up the addiction without a new skill or tool might be too difficult. How would you cope when the thoughts and emotions return? On the flip side, it’s very difficult to make progress in trauma work if you’re using a substance and maintaining the old pain/reward system. This prevents you from learning new tolerance and practicing new skills.
You need support
If you can break an addiction on your own, fantastic. However, if you can’t you might need some backup. Healing from the trauma so that it becomes only a memory and not a trigger for overwhelming emotions is the goal and possible. This is where a skilled counselor you trust, can make the difference. Having someone to guide you toward healing, being compassionate about the addiction, while working to help you break the reliance is key.
Tools like Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Lifespan Integration Therapy along with gold standards like Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness, are techniques we use at Bellevue Family Counseling. If you’re looking to get off the slippery slope and break free, book an appointment and get started today.