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The cognitive behavioral approach is a formidable tool for revitalization and for rechanneling those aspects of your Condition detrimental to your mental and emotional well-being.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) addresses the mental and behavioral issues of Social Anxiety Disorder. Its primary function is replacing irrational thought and behavior patterns with positive and rational ones.  It does this by bringing the client’s attention to their pattern of behavior and providing the means to supplant it though repetitive affirmation so that the ANT’s (automatic negative thoughts and actions) are replaced by ART’s (automatic rational thoughts and actions). It’s a laborious method but effective and has been a foundation for recovery since the disorder was recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders in 1994.

 

ReChanneling’s Cognitive Behavioral Restructuring (CBR) is a Holistic Advance on the CBT approach but its basic premise is inviolable. There are some of CBH’s advancements.

 

(CBR) addresses the entire Integral Human Complex―mind, body, spirit, and emotion―recognizing that an unbalanced system is one without equilibrium and can’t function at the highest potential for which it was designed.

 

How often have we said to ourselves, “I wish I hadn’t said that,” or “I could’ve handled that better.” The method of memory retrieval and retention was originally developed by Stanislavski, as a tool to help his actors become one with their character by learning how to instinctively react and respond as the character would.

Our programs dealing with Social Anxiety Disorder would not be effective without a clear cultural awareness and an empathic understanding of the qualities unique to that community.  An empathetic actor attempts to cultivate a vicarious connection with someone so they can see the world through the other’s perspective; experiencing their discomfort, sharing their frustration and embracing the other’s moods and apprehensions as their own. Perception, desire, feeling, motivation― each become more vivid and comprehensible in empathetic interrelationship. It’s unselfish engagement at the highest level. It’s beyond compassion; It’s being. That’s the goal, anyway. It’s never fully achievable, the stuff comes at you in bits and pieces, but it helps you understand.

A person controlled by his emotions is still responsible for the consequences. We often hurt someone by blurting out an emotional response without thinking. “Oh, that wasn’t what I mean to say?” Through practice you can actually learn to “say what you mean and mean what you say”.  A person who has control of the helm, can anticipate their emotional reaction and stop it before it crashes into the iceberg. We all know the adage, “think before you speak,” but how often do we? Stanislavski’s method can train the brain to immediately check a reaction before we say the words in order to deliver the most appropriate response. It’s like the practiced piano player who can spontaneously deliver a tune without thinking. It’s delivery that has been meticulously thought out and practiced beforehand. It’s a method that prevents muttering to ourselves, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t said that.”

 

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The Abhidharmic eightfold path neglected the 9th path necessary for a life resolute of principle and character. There are good choices and bad choices but there is only one right choice. We don’t always recognize it in the cacophony of relativity and compromise but it’s always in plain sight once we learn to open our eyes. 

The repetitive affirmations incorporated by cognitive behavioral therapy to counter decades of negative and irrational thought and action are monumentally more effective when paired with the simultaneous and deliberate restructuring of the neural network that supports that negativity. The two methods are integral and cooperative, and most effective when practiced as a unified methodology.

Half a century of cognitive behavioral therapy, effective as has been suggested, has evolved into a one-size-fits-all solution perpetuated by mental health experts. This singular approach is archaic and arguably detrimental, and tantamount to malpractice if other supportive options particular to the client are not considered. A good therapeutic approach is a collaboration of theoretical construct and scientific evidence. The qualitative perspective addresses methods that can challenge; the quantitative can provide measures for success and statistics on research data, while monitoring client progress. A person subsisting on paranoia sustained by negative personal evaluation is better served by out–of–the box strategies developed through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation. 

There is no absolute cure for Social Anxiety Disorder. There are anti-depressants and other pharmaceuticals that dull the pain, but they can affect your other moods as well. You confront SAD head-on and outsmart it, overwhelm it by knowing it better than it knows itself. Old perceptions of inadequacy, recollections of isolation, irrational fears, and other consequences of SAD are indelibly ingrained into your psyche. They are a component of who you once were and who you are today. You outsmart SAD by overwhelming it with positive affirmation, and an appreciation of your significance. You mitigate the perceptions of incompetence and worthlessness. You overpower your irrational fears and apprehensions. 

You get help.

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Groups are always put together with people of similar background with similar issues. A teenager is best served joining a group of younger participants. A depression Group might be made up of adult women. Our goal is to find the best fit where the client can feel safe and comfortable sharing experiences and issues. Another Group might be made up of Type A personalities. The commonality of the participants is what makes a Group work effectively. For example, we have two Groups that deal specifically with LGBTQ persons experiencing Social Anxiety Disorder. Those Groups are tailored to factor in the cultural uniqueness of the LGBTQ community.

 

We adhere to professional guidelines in organizing, designing, and facilitating any Group.  We limit participation in a Group to six individuals who are committed to recovery. The Group structure is based on the cognitive behavioral approach of positive reinforcement, and the replacement of irrational (negative) thought and action with rational (positive), undistorted thought and action (ARTs v ANTs). We understand the nature of affirmation and repetition.  We also recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach has its limitations unless supported by other methods of positive reinforcement and motivation.

 

Our workshops adhere to a strict, time-controlled regimen not uncommon to other CBT programs; our Groups address the same issues and the same methods of recovery but at a pace subject to the comfort of the Group as a whole. The structure is designed to be more supportive and inclusive; comfort, safety, and confidentiality are prioritized.

A typical two-hour Group session is structured as follows:

The first 30 minutes allows participants to provide updates on their program, share experiences and stories, and ask questions, in an atmosphere of support. Many individuals experiencing Social Anxiety Disorder don’t have someone with whom they can confide, and this is true for other disorders as well. We insulate and isolate ourselves from others for a variety of symptomatic reasons. It’s also uncommon to find someone who really understands what we are going through.

 

The next hour is topical where we address something of relevance to the Group. Positive motivation, neural network restructuring, specific elements of CBT, and so on.  

The final half hour is left for follow-up, comment, constructive argument, and so on. We usually find time to engage in an exercise from the CBT playbook that supports the discussion and the Group at its level of recovery. The focus of a Group is solution over cause―on the here-and-now, and methods that are immediately incorporated to alleviate the symptoms that affect our mental and emotional well-being.      

 

We don’t provide therapy; when warranted, we refer clients to a licensed counselor experienced in the specific disorder. Our Groups are practicums that supports therapy. A practicum provides the blueprint and tools necessary to the project; the participant does the actual work. The only difference between that and therapy is our emphasis on self-reliance. Our participants are able to maintain their progress long after the Group has disbanded, although they usually develop lasting relationships with other in the Group. 

© April 3, 2018

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.

ReChanneling Inc.

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