Since 1978 The Berent Treatment Method has adapted therapy to the specific needs of social anxiety sufferers rather than try to fit the disorder into the narrow confines of an existing treatment modality. Having provided direct treatment, and supervised treatment, to approximately 10,000 individuals of all ages in individual, family and group therapy the following are some of my important observations.
Social anxiety is an insidiously complex problem which encompasses a wide spectrum of symptoms and functioning levels; from public speaking anxiety and selective mutism to pervasive social avoidance, performance anxiety, erythrophobia,and hyper-hidrosis.
Many of my high performing successful adults, who have resolved their public speaking anxiety have said about treatment; “this is the hardest thing I’ve done in my life”. What they are primarily referring to is the dynamic of introspection, which is the process of looking into one’s self. Countless children, adolescents, and adults with selective mutism have resolved this disorder via the Berent Method which teaches age appropriate introspective skills. Introspection becomes the key to developing emotional intelligence.
Introspection facilitates awareness of thoughts, emotions, and physiology, as well as behavior. These are crucial variables for any real treatment success. At the risk of being offense I’m appalled at the statements by the CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) community promising astounding results within a short- term framework. My conclusion is the professionals making these statements do not have a productive understanding of the disorder, which is the quintessential disease of resistance. In addition, CBT research is quite flawed. An upcoming article will explain this.
Resistance is based on the reality that social anxiety sufferers have become very skilled at the defensive process of detachment. This is disconnecting from thoughts and feelings. This dynamic is in play because the sufferer does not want to experience the discomfort and emotional pain of attachment or connecting. Detachment becomes very ingrained over time. For example; even with the typical 5-year-old selective mutism profile detachment is very pronounced.
Here’s the punchline. Without introspection the best treatment outcome that can happen is to implement technique without resolving the core problem. This is a band-aide approach.
It’s good to know who to take advice from. In the realm of psychotherapy an often- used term is evidence based. It appears that my free clinical library offers the most conc clinical evidence available regarding the treatment of social anxiety.