syndrome is perhaps the number one reason why currently there
is so little clinical productivity available within the psychotherapy
profession related to the treatment of social anxiety. I know
countless examples of situations where parents have told me
that when taking their child of any age (adult, teenager, or
younger child) to therapy for social anxiety, the therapist
does not teach a therapeutic game plan for parents. In addition,
I have seen countless numbers of times where parents, who are
paying for their adult child's therapy, are told by the therapist
they will not talk to them at all.
While there are many different manifestations of social anxiety,
there are basically two types of people who have the problem;
one is the person who is capable of “initiative”;
the other is not capable. “Initiative” does not
mean ability. It means to "start up". When the social
anxiety sufferer is not capable of initiative, that person
will be driven by intense and often primal dynamics to avoid
anything that is threatening. This includes talking about
the situation and identifying pertinent issues for healing,
in addition to the threatening situations and people.
In order for the person to be good at avoiding, dependence
has to be present. Dependency can take financial, emotional,
and practical forms. If the people who are depended upon do
not learn a functional game plan to empower their dependent,
it is extremely difficult to achieve any therapeutic success.
At one time in my practice two individuals in their mid-30s
came to me from the same inpatient program at a well-known
Midwest clinic. Both were intelligent individuals whose lifestyle
was totally enabled by their parents. Both did not work and
had limited social lives. Both sets of parents were paying
around $50-$60k a year to enable their dependents'
lifestyles. Both were overly medicated. Both would respond
with suicidal threats if their parents tried to stop their
enabling behavior. These threats paralyzed the parents.
The fact that these parents were not involved at all in the
intensive inpatient program demonstrated to me the total confusion
of the professional staff at that facility. In order for there
to be success, parents have to learn how to manage their own
anxiety along with developing a productive therapeutic blueprint.
If this is not the case chaos, distress will be the status
School phobia and selective mutism are examples of social
anxieties that personify the avoidance-dependency dynamic.
In these cases, most of productive treatment is based on corrective
parenting. The same is the case for the "adult child" with social
anxiety - a person who lives at home, does not socialize, and does not
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