Month: July 2014

Six Steps to Overcoming Social Anxiety

You want to meet some new people and you want to have friends that you can share your world with, but it may be difficult because social interactions leave you feeling drained, inadequate, and anxious.  You spend quite a lot of time worrying about what will happen if people do not like you are what they are saying about you when you leave.  These are all signs of social anxiety.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can get through social anxiety.  Make some small changes in your life and you will begin to feel more comfortable in social settings.  And if it is too rough for you to do on your own, find a qualified therapist to help you.  He or she will be able to help you walk this slippery path and navigate toward your best self.

Here are six things you can do on your own that will alleviate social anxiety:

 1. Think Positively

Negative thinking is at the heart of social anxiety.  One of the most helpful things that can be done during treatment for social anxiety is helping patients work their way through negative thinking processes and find ways to change the pattern.  Therapists usually recommend that patients keep a journal so that they can get a better sense of what the negative thoughts are usually about and see evidence of how damaging these negative thoughts can be.  Patients are encouraged to recognize a negative thought and follow it up with a positive thought.

2. Stop Avoiding Situations the Make You Uncomfortable

If you never step outside your comfort zone, you are never going meet any new people or make any new connections with the world.  While keeping away from any situation that makes you uncomfortable seems like it is the best thing to do for yourself, but avoidance actually makes anxiety worse in the long run.  If you never leave your comfort zone, you will never learn how to control your anxiety.  It will have control over you.

3. Know When to Leave

Getting out of your comfort zone and taking some social chances is a good thing for you to do, but that does not mean that you have to go to a big office party and stay there for hours and hours.  Go with a set amount of time that you plan to stay – an hour, or a half hour, or even just 20 minutes.  When you talk to the people you know, mention that you are just dropping by and have another commitment.  Have your exit strategy worked out before you go.  If you start to have a good time, you can always stay for a while longer and allay inquiries with a text that your plans changed.

4. Compare Yourself to No One

Each person on this planet is unique.  Comparing your situation and behavior to anyone else’s is not going to do you any good.  There will always be someone who is more confident or better at social interaction than you are.  There will always be someone who is less confidents and not as capable of social interaction as you are.  Rather than comparing yourself to others, try to improve yourself.  Compare yourself to yourself.  Make constant improvements so that you can look back in a year and see your improvements.

5. Predict Success

Focusing on what you do not want to happen or what could potentially go wrong is not going to be helpful to you.  Focus on the positive.  Think about what you DO want to happen.  The surest way to find failure is to expect failure.  Visualize yourself as a confident conversationalist.  Think about talking to people that you have never spoken to before.  Picture yourself talking to many groups of people and making the rounds to talk to everyone.  These things might not happen, but at least you have given yourself a chance.

 6. Ask Questions

The easiest way to engage people and to make yourself feel more comfortable is to ask questions.  It takes the pressure off of you trying to think about something witty or interesting to add.  People love to talk about themselves so ask sincere, open-ended questions so that the responses will elicit conversation.  Come up with some questions beforehand so that you can pull them out when you need them.  Ask about the job of the person you are talking to, a movie you both saw recently, or some other kind of shared experience.

Five Ways You Can Help A Child Through Eating Disorder Treatment

Being supportive of someone with an eating disorder can be very difficult, especially when that person is your child.  You feel like you should have been able to protect him or her.  You feel like you are responsible and you could have done something.  But there are some more productive ways that you can spend this time while your child is getting the help that he or she so desperately needs.  There are some things that you should be doing while he or she is in eating disorder treatment.

Do not assign blame

Blaming yourself, blaming your child, or blaming anyone is counterproductive.  Much of the early research done into eating disorders placed all the blame on the parents of the child with the eating disorder.  There are a lot of complex reasons why someone develops an eating disorder.  And most of them have nothing to do with you as the parent.  While it is important to listen and respond to anything that is brought up by your child’s treatment team, placing blame on anyone is unnecessary.  It does not matter where the fault lies.  It does matter that your child is getting the treatment that he or she needs.

Don’t be afraid to talk about it

Keeping your child’s eating disorder a secret only increases the shame and guilt associated with it.  Secrecy and shame are two of the major components of eating disorders.  Many families are intimidated and do not know how to talk about this kind of difficult subject, but that only gives the disorder the power.  Talk about it as a family. Talk about what is going on with your friends and extended family.  If you are not including the people that you trust in this complex and emotionally charged situation in your life then you are not likely to be getting the support that you need.


Stop dealing with your own appearance

That is not to suggest that you should stop taking showers and stop putting on makeup if that is something that you like to do, but spending time thinking about and talking about your weight, your body size, and other issues associated with your relationship to exercise, food, or appearance can be setting an unhealthy example for your child.  He or she is looking to your for guidance, and if you are focused on dieting and how fat you are getting, the message you are sending is one that will end up perpetuating the eating disorder rather than aiding in its treatment.

Get help for yourself and anyone else who needs it

Eating disorders do not just effect the person with the disorder.  They effect the whole family.  You must be honest with yourself about whether or not you need help to deal with this stressful situation.  If you need to seek out professional help, do so, and offer that same option to anyone else in your family who may need it.  Other children in the family will be feeling the strain on you and the eating disorder sufferer.  They may need a little bit of professional help too.  There is no shame in getting help.  Set a good example for everyone by getting the help and support that you need.

Keep hopeful and be patient

Eating disorders are very serious and sometimes deadly diseases, but they are treatable.  There is no reason why your child could not make a complete recovery with the right kinds of help.  Treatment takes time.  Just because you are not seeing immediate results does not mean that the treatment is not working.  These things take time.  Losing your patience is not going to be very helpful for anyone involved.  It might actually be making matters worse.  If you are concerned about the prognosis or about how long treatment is taking, speak with your child’s counselors or treatment team.  He or she may have some insight into the progress your child is making which will ease your mind.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as social phobia, is the feeling of extreme fear of judgement of scrutiny in social or performance situations.  It has the power to disrupt daily life by limiting or preventing social and romantic relationships. Social anxiety disorder can also impact professional or academic performance and can result in a very isolated existence.

When Does It Start?

The typical onset of social anxiety disorder is approximately 13 years of age.  Some early signs in children younger than 13 include:

  • clinging behavior
  • tantrums
  • selective mutism

Due to the fact that those who suffer with this disorder find it difficult to speak up and advocate for themselves, approximately 36% of those with the disorder go undiagnosed and untreated for 10+ years before seeking help.

How Does Social Anxiety Disorder Work?

Those who suffer from this disorder often feel ashamed, alone, and a lack of control over themselves.  They experience life with a regular fright of embarrassment or humiliation.

Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:

  • excessive blushing
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • abdominal distress
  • headaches
  • increased heart rate
  • dizziness
  • feeling of losing control

The disorder can also be present in general social interactions or more selectively, such as during participation in classes or meetings, or in dating situations.  Individuals with social anxiety disorder tend to be prone to substance abuse in an attempt to self-medicate and ease their symptoms.

How Is It Treated?

Treatment for social anxiety disorder includes therapy, medication, a combination of therapy and medication, and/or complementary and alternative methods such as yoga or acupuncture.  The vast majority of individuals who seek treatment will see a marked improvement in their symptoms and are able to overcome the fears holding them back from their goals.  If you or someone you know may suffer from social anxiety disorder, a Proliance Center professional is ready help!

Four Issues to Talk About in Premarital Therapy

People in this country are waiting longer than ever before to get married.  Since living together and potentially having children without being married is socially acceptable in most parts of the country now, some people are seeing very little reason to married at all.

Premarital Therapy Strengthens Communication

When people are planning to get married, particularly younger people, it may be a good idea for them to take part in premarital therapy.  It can be an incredibly helpful tool in getting couples to talk through many of the issues that they will encounter during marriage.  Talking through some of these issues in premarital therapy can help couples be able to deal better when the situation arises.

Issue #1 Life Long Goals

You are both adults.  That means that you have probably made some plans with your future.  These plans can include things about careers, family, things you would like to do, or places you would like to go.  This is the time for sharing some of those goals to find out if they are things that you can be doing together, things that you will need to do separately, or things that neither one of you can live with.  If the goals of one member of the couple are to settle down, have a family, buy a house etc. and the goals of the other member of the couple are to spend his or her life traveling all the time and do not including a family then you have something to discuss.  These differences do not mean that one or the other of you has to completely give up on a dream, and they do not mean that you cannot be together, but having these conversations now may save you some heartache later on.

Issue #2 Mutual Expectations

The questions to address here are usually things like ‘What kind of emotional support do you expect during the good times and during the bad times?’ or ‘Do you have some specific needs in order to be happy?’.  This is the time to talk about anything that you expect from your partner.  Your expectations could be in relationship to small things like that you think the dishes should be done right after dinner, or they could be in relationship to big things like career opportunities and child care obligations.  You may be expecting something from your partner that he or she has no idea about.  This is the time to discuss those issues.

Issue #3 Money Management

Money is the #1 reason why couples fight.  Making a handful of decisions about how money will be managed and having an honest conversation about it now may help some in the future.  You will need to make decisions about whether you will have joint bank accounts or separate, how you will decide on bigger purchases like a car or a house, who will be paying the bills and keeping an eye on your financial health, or what will happen when one of you is making more money than the other.  If you are planning to have children, you will need to discuss how you plan on providing for their futures and how the family’s money will work if one of you is going to be staying home with that child.  You may also want to discuss making plans for saving money or contributing to a retirement accounts, college funds, or vacation funds.  While these questions may not seem important now, they will be important in the future.

Issue #4 Conflict Management

All marriages have a certain amount of conflict.  It is completely normal for you to fight sometimes.  But you may want to come up with a mutually agreed upon way to discuss these conflicts before you really start to have them.  You will need to talk about what feels the most comfortable for you when your partner is upset, and also what you can do that will make your partner more comfortable.  You may want to come up with a way to present things that are bothering you that is not confrontational or judgmental but rather productive and approached in the interest of solving the problem rather than placing blame.

All of these issues are things that can be discussed during premarital therapy.  Every issue that couples can work out and set expectations for before they get married will help avoid some of the typical conflicts that can arise throughout a lifetime together.

Seven Commonly Asked Questions in Couples Counseling

The idea of couples counseling may seem daunting.  According to Purdue University’s Couple and Family Therapy Center, getting your partner to agree to go is the most difficult part of couples counseling.  Once you get over the first hurdle, you can start down the road to real healing.  There are quite a few things that will likely come up in couples therapy that you and your partner may want to discuss beforehand.  If they are difficult or quite possibly the reason that you are seeking couples therapy in the first place, then you may want to give your partner this list of questions so that he or she can think about them.  You will want to take some time to think about them as well.

1. What are our biggest issues?

The things that are important to one member of a couple may not be the same as the things that are important to the other member of the couple.  There is always going to some conflict when you are in a relationship, but agreeing on major points or being able to compromise on major points mitigates some of the potential conflict.  During counseling, you will explore the biggest issues that the two of you have and try to find ways to work through them.  In order to find solutions to your problems, you and your therapist will need to know what the problems are.

2. Are you going through a bad phase?

All relationships have good phases and bad phases.  Sometimes both partners are having a difficult time or sometimes it is just one.  Either way, think about the issues behind what you are currently going through.  Are these issues that can be overcome or are they bigger than the relationship can handle?

3. How do you really feel about the relationship?

Dig deep and think hard on how you feel about your relationship.  You may feel like it is too late and nothing can be done to save it, but your partner may feel like it is worth saving.  Since you and your partner have made it to counseling, there is likely enough of a relationship left to work on.  But you have to think about what you really want and you have to find out what your partner really wants out of the relationship.  If you are on the same page, then there is something there to work on.

4. Do you trust your partner?

The strongest relationships are built on trust.  It is one of the most important factors for being able to stay together in the long term.  If you feel that you cannot trust your partner, or he or she feels that you cannot be trusted, there still may be hope.  Whatever has causes this mistrust may need to be forgiven.   If you cannot immediately say that you trust your partner, take some time to think about why.  Think about what your partner may be able to do to win back your trust.

5. What are your couples therapy expectations?

Take the time to think about what you want to get out of counseling and encourage you partner to do the same.  If you both go into counseling with the same hopes of making your marriage stronger and learning to connect on a different level then there is a good chance that you will come away with those things.

6. Are there past conflicts that need to be worked out?

It is nearly impossible to move forward if one or both of you carry anger and resentment toward the other one.  The past will continue to come up in future arguments.  It is very difficult to remain close to someone if you are still angry about something that happened in the past.  Bring up these past unresolved angers in counseling.  They will need to be worked out before you can move forward.

7. Do you feel accepted for the person that you are?

There are going to be things about you that you partner does not like. There are going to be things about your partner that you do not like.  There is not rule saying that you have to like everything about someone all the time.  However, to be in a solid relationship, you do have to accept your partner as the person that he or she is.  Thinking that you are going to be able to control and manipulate him or her into being what you want is unrealistic.  If your partner is an introvert, he or she is going to have different needs than if he or she were an extrovert.  You do not have to completely understand his or her behavior or requests, but you do need to be accepting, loving, and supportive of the things that are in his or her nature.

Six Social Skills That Could Help Your Child Succeed

There are many children in the world who have inherent trouble interacting with others. There are a great many reasons why this is true. Regardless of the reasons, having sound social skills can help your child succeed in school, friendship, work and other important aspects of their lives. Social skills are not easily taught, and your child may need training and constant reinforcement so that they can learn how to interact with others and behave in public settings. Children often need a structured environment to learn these very important social skills when they are not leaning them naturally through the life situations and experiences that they go through on a daily basis.

social skills

Social skills may seem like an innate part of some children’s temperament; however, some kids do struggle with what seem to be “easy” social cues, triggers and situations. Here are six social skills to consider if you believe that your child may be struggling with common public settings, situations and experiences in their daily lives.

Communication Skills

There are many skills that go into effective communication. Children often struggle with communicating who they are and what makes them unique to others. This kind of skill is important when building friendships. As children learn to get across their values and interests, they increase their self-acceptance and self-confidence. This helps them make connections with other children.

Many children who have trouble with social interaction choose the wrong tactics for introducing themselves to other children like bragging to try to get attention or hanging back and being ignored. Teachings your child good communications skills with help him or her later in life.

Nonverbal Communication Skills

Nonverbal skills can be just as important as verbal skills. People often pay more attention to the way that words and said and the way a person looks when saying them than they do to what is being said. It has been said that up to 85% of communication is nonverbal.

One of the skills most often taught in nonverbal communication training is body language. Body language consists of facial expressions, eye contact, posture, physical appearance, and awareness of physical distance. Paralanguage is the other most often taught skill. Paralanguage includes accent, inflection, volume, tone and any articulation skills necessary to get the point across. Your child will also need to learn to pick up on these nonverbal cues as well.

Feeling Expression Skills

The ability to express feelings is an important factor in a child’s emotional development. Teaching children to express and control their feelings will not only help them become more socially accepted, but will also help them to develop a good foundation for the rest of their emotional lives. Many psychological professionals believe that emotional and social skills training in childhood can set the foundation for a child to be able to develop more intimate relationships later in life.

Problem Solving Skills

Children are often not given the chance to really explore their own problem solving skills. The adults in their lives are very likely to jump in before the child has really had a chance to make any progress. Children have an amazing capacity to be able to work things out for themselves with a little encouragement. Problem solving skills are mostly developed with real life situations rather than the skills being taught. Exposing your child to a variety of different kinds of situations and different kinds of conversations will give him or her a boost in working things out.

Listening Skills

Listening skills are something that most children struggle with. Listening skills are essential for effective social communication. Many children are so focused on making their own points in a conversation that they forget to listen to what the other person involved in the conversation is saying. The ability to listen and respond appropriately is part of some children’s temperament, but if they are not, they can be fueled and encouraged.

Children who have trouble with listening skills are usually screened for other kinds of problems before skills training begins. It is possible that he or she has a learning disability or a hearing problem that is keeping him or her from responding appropriately. Once these items are ruled out, then listening skills training can begin.

Conflict Management Skills

Conflict between children (and adults for that matter) is inevitable. Your child’s ability to resolve minor conflict will be a major part of his or her social success. Studies suggest that teaching children positive alternatives to anger and fighting are the most direct way to reduce public behavioral problems. When adults are not present, groups of children tend to be led by the most outgoing of the group, but conflict management skills can lead your child to become a different kind of group leader. Other children will begin to turn to your child when they need help.

Being patient with your child while he or she goes through the process of learning social skills is essential. Your patience with them will teach them a lesson in itself. It may not always be easy, but getting your child help with learning certain social skills can help ensure that your child has a happy healthy, and successful future.


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