In the treatment of anxiety disorders (such as social anxiety) the following procedure is usually used (in this order): insight, perseverance and action. This procedure has several drawbacks: anxious people are often less adept at learning, that is, they have difficulty acquiring new knowledge (for example, in understanding their disorders), and in attempting to exhibit behavioral changes, people anxious people often show (psychological) resistance (avoidance behavior).
Due to these drawbacks, the duration of treatment is usually too long or the treatment fails. The following treatment takes a different approach, namely, the above procedure is used in the reverse order, and as a result, the drawbacks are largely eliminated. The anxious individual is first given a task (values) from the trainer (or therapist) without a full and detailed explanation. If the task succeeds, then the less the anxious individual will receive additional learning and work tasks (perception) of the coach.
This treatment is largely based on the problem-solving therapy of American psychiatrist and psychotherapist Milton H. Erickson (founder of rare therapy and hypnotherapy). Erickson explored different ways of approaching different social problems without looking into his clients’ past (for example, how they were raised).
Other therapists studied Erickson’s methods and used them in their practice. One such therapist, Jay Haley (1976), described in his book a series of sessions involving a family with a child who was afraid of dogs. The therapist in these sessions came up with a remarkable solution to help this young man reduce his fear of dogs. The therapist asked this young man, with the help of his parents, to bring home a small dog that he thinks he is very scared and to cure his anxiety. In short, this solution helped this young man to be less afraid of dogs. The following treatment is based on the story of this young man who was afraid of dogs and was once executed by a man who was afraid of women. This man knew a woman who he thought was very shy and he successfully tried to cure her shyness. He did this by having contact with this woman and talking to her about himself. After encounters with this woman, he later noticed changes in her behavior and in the way he thinks and feels.
Below are some improvements you have noticed in yourself after meetings with this previously shy woman:
- more open to others;
- he is not afraid of women (he had a two-year friendship with a beautiful intelligent Chinese woman – with a university degree – who also participated in Miss China 2005);
- able to get irritated (get angry) with others (but lead to the termination of his friendship with his Chinese girlfriend);
- able to cope with the end of friendships with others better than before;
- able to predict the behavior of others and read their nonverbal behavior;
- improved the skills of motorists (and later became a qualified driving instructor);
- better sports skills (such as swimming);
- you don’t need alcohol or drugs to feel better;
- during intimate conversations with others, he is often “high”;
- was more or less diagnosed as retarded but went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in social sciences;
- improved brain functions (such as memory and thinking);
- able to think at a higher level.
One treatment for men who are afraid of women includes:
- Insight (later mapping is no longer possible)
The male client follows the instructions (orders) of the trainer.
A male customer, who is afraid of women, is instructed to find a woman he thinks is very shy and tries to cure her shyness. The male client should be able to cure her shyness by being vulnerable to her (ie, talking about himself).
The male client continues to perform the task (assignment).
The male customer goes to this shy woman once a week and tells her about himself. The male client must gradually (ie in small steps) become vulnerable to her, because if he is too quick to become vulnerable to her, this might cause (some) unpleasant surprises (such as anxiety) for her.
Insight (no more subsequent assignments possible)
If the male client is successful in curing the woman’s shyness (ie, the woman is capable of being vulnerable to others), then the male client will receive additional learning and work assignments from the trainer.
The male client reads books/articles (or parts of books/articles – copies) that the trainer recommends to him, for example:
- on the development of anxiety/shyness, for example, writer Terry Dixon’s book:
- on relationships, for example, books by writer/marital therapist Andrew G. Marshall;
- about “the myth of Mars and Venus”, for example, books by the writers Deborah Cameron and Cordelia Fine.
The male client also carries out a series of activities to improve his chances of achieving a healthy and lasting relationship with a woman, such as:
- emotional regulation training;
- communication skills training;
- go to sports school (to get a healthy body);
- learn to cook;
- Learn to dance;
- learn to take care of children.
Haley, J. (1976). Problem solving therapy. New strategies for effective family therapy. San Francisco/London: Jossey-Bass, Inc.