Happy minds … write happy words

My passion for social anxiety

My passion for social anxiety

I am extremely passionate about helping people over social anxiety so they can see beyond the learned behaviour towards being the person they wish to be. The majority of the client that come to see me sufferer social anxiety, the majority of these have been through the various forms of counselling, had been prescribed what they have found to be ineffective drug treatments and are desperate enough to give anything a go.
I have been working directly with phobia sufferers for over five years, a straightforward phobia can in most occasions be completely eradicated in one section. Social phobia, or social anxiety is much more complex set of issues/rules that need to be unlearned in order for the person to begin to see the world differently. Take a typical spider phobic, they have a trigger (the spider) and a response (panic, need to flee) therefore in order to create lasting change all we need to do is target the response to the trigger. So instead of see spider feel panic, the response will be see spider feel fine. There is no ifs or buts with the response in a typical phobic person, there is a stimulus and the response.
With social phobia as well as the stimulus response model, there are additional rules to when the stimulus response model can be applied. Most people who come to me with social phobia will have rules for when the social phobia can kick in, so they may feel comfortable or even confident around friends or family, many people will tell me that one-to-one they are fine with, occasionally someone will say that they are better in groups of  three or four people, most will say they have an allotted time before they can feel comfortable with the new person. This makes perfect sense as any human relationship will go through a period of judging for suitability and safety.  So even just taking and highlighting that one rule ” I will feel anxious with someone until X amount of time has passed.”  highlights social anxiety goes above and beyond the typical stimulus response model the majority of phobics suffer.
Since social anxiety is a set of learned behaviours,that could be referred to as programs or strategies. Once we have discovered the strategies we can easily (in most cases) unlearn the strategies do not produce the results we wish and learn effective strategies for dealing with situations.
I often say I do not cure social anxiety because the person with social anxiety is doing it correctly, they have just missed learned strategies. These can be picked up to our formative years, so if we have a mother who is socially anxious, the child is more likely to see mom behaving in a certain way around certain people and they learn this is how you behave around people. If we consider that nearly every social anxious person will have times in their life where it is perfectly acceptable to be the centre of attention, to speak freely and openly, to be able to enjoy other people then we can realise that they already have an effective strategy they just need to extend that strategy into the wider social world.
The majority of my adult life had been blighted by social anxiety, my partner was diagnosed as socially anxious about nine years ago and upon reflection had been socially anxious all her life. After going through various counselling sessions and not getting the results she wished (one less than helpful CBT councillor informing her” you will just always be like this”). At first this enraged me since I knew my partner was more than capable of being able to hold a conversation, enjoyed being around people and to me was a very friendly happy wonderful woman.  What also annoyed me was whilst I was always aware that she never seemed to enjoy having friends, I never realised that it was not by choice. At some stage it dawned on me that not only was my partner missing out on all the joys that human interaction and friendship can bring but also the world was missing out on finding out what a wonderful person she was. Recently I have realised that throughout my life I have always been attracted to conversations with people who may have considered themselves shy, throughout school I made a point of talking to all people. Looking back at parties, social gatherings, I could see that I would always start conversations with the quietest of people because I realised that the quite people were usually the ones that had something worth listening to.
This is one of the reasons I am incredibly passionate about helping people over social anxiety because I realise the world would be a much more interesting and wonderful place if all the people who felt anxious in social situations were able to stand up and let themselves be heard because not only are they missing out but the rest of the world is missing out on discovering many many beautiful personalities.
There is a point with each and every socially anxious client I work with where I can literally see them transform in front of me and start to take on self belief, and it is one of the most rewarding experiences of my work. I have seen wallflowers turned into the most beautiful social butterflies. I believe strongly that everyone should have the confidence to be able to feel comfortable in any situation. For a lot of people suffering social anxiety this can be achieved incredibly painlessly, quickly and with a great sense of satisfaction.
After working with socially anxious people for this amount of time I am getting used to the rules and regulations of social anxiety, as well as the how to be socially anxious. My client often look at me like I am inside their heads because I can tell them the kind of thoughts and voices that generate those feelings, it is then that they understand that if I can describe their model of the world accurately to them, then I will be able to instruct them on how to easily change their model so that they can feel comfortable where ever they wish to. So over the years we have gathered up many teachings and importantly techniques that can quickly unlearn the old behaviours and replace them with new empowering behaviours that can lead to social freedom and more importantly fun.
if you would like to learn more about my treatment of social anxiety or even ask me a question then please get in touch.
Andrew Milne
Tranceformations coach
happy minds …. make happy people.

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