Jonathan Berent, L.C.S.W. Offers Insight into Treatment for Adults with Pervasive Social Anxiety

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“Despite bold claims by the cognitive behavioral treatment community that social anxiety is easily treatable, the mental health community has remained largely helpless in its attempt to provide productive treatment for pervasive social anxiety in general and for adults specifically. Much of this therapeutic impotence is based on the legal barrier of engaging parents of adults over age 18, concurrent with confusion regarding Avoidant Personality Disorder and Dependent Personality Disorder.”

Adult selective mutism is the epitome of primitive functioning. Given the resistance of adults with pervasive social anxiety, a therapeutic parenting methodology is crucial for success.

According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population, every year. The number is much higher when including people under age 18. Social anxiety has been described as the anxiety disorder of the millennium due to its core dynamic of “performance” and is the largest subset of anxiety disorders.

According to Jonathan Berent, L.C.S.W., author of “Beyond Shyness” (Simon & Schuster) and “Work Makes Me Nervous” (Wiley), who has been treating social anxiety since 1978:

“Despite bold claims by the cognitive behavioral treatment community that social anxiety is easily treatable, the mental health community has remained largely helpless in its attempt to provide productive treatment for pervasive social anxiety in general and for adults specifically.”

Berent adds, “Much of this therapeutic impotence is based on the legal barrier of engaging parents of adults over age 18, concurrent with confusion regarding Avoidant Personality Disorder and Dependent Personality Disorder.”

Berent, who has provided treatment to thousands of individuals of all ages during a forty year psychotherapy career, explains, “If you are a parent of an adult with pervasive social avoidance and you believe your dependent will grow out of the problem, or you will take him or her to a therapist to fix the situation without learning non-enabling strategies, this will be--in most cases-- distorted thinking.”

“Enabling” encompasses any behavior on the part of parents that inhibits the growth or potential of the dependent. When an adult has pervasive social anxiety:

“Addiction to Avoidance” is in place.

Tragically, the adult with pervasive social anxiety usually has no initiative for healing. Their basic drive is to escape the pain of anxiety. Escape into the internet, video games, and a solitary existence enabled by parental anxiety and confusion. Typically, they function at too primitive a level to have initiative for any healing process.

Adult Selective Mutism is the Epitome of Primitive Functioning

Detachment is the dynamic of disconnecting from thoughts and feelings and is the doorway to avoidant behavior. Berent has worked with countless individuals who have detached to the extent they live in an alternate and avoidant reality. They have no intention of changing! Concurrent with parental enabling a pathology of homeostasis is created.

Click here for a free and essential library of clinical interviews with individuals and families who have resolved social anxiety via The Berent Method.

Given the resistance of adults with pervasive social anxiety, a therapeutic parenting methodology is crucial for success.

Berent advises the potential consumer of mental health services for the treatment of social anxiety to be wary of therapies that do not differentiate between the individual with and without initiative for healing. What these methodologies do not understand is that even if parents are able to get the dependent into individual therapy, the patient has no incentive or motivation to give up primitive functioning. This is because that would require facing anxiety and getting out of their comfort zone! Their anxiety is painful to the point that avoidance can be a way of life.

The typical therapist response of “he’s over 18; I can’t see the parents” personifies ignorance in treating avoidant and dependent personality which is an integral component of social anxiety.

As many parents have communicated to Berent, their child “did not come with a manual.” He is in no way condemning confusion in parenting but is simply stating that in order for clinical success to occur, an empowering parenting methodology must be in place due to the extremely ingrained detachment and avoidance dynamic. Without this, the problem will accrue with time. Parents have substantial empowering potential when using the Berent Treatment Method for Social Anxiety.

About Jonathan Berent
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Jonathan Berent, L.C.S.W., A.C.S.W., has pioneered psychotherapy for social anxiety, public speaking anxiety, and performance anxiety since 1978. He has worked with thousands of individuals of all ages in individual, family, and group therapy. He is the author of "Beyond Shyness: How to Conquer Social Anxieties" (Simon & Schuster), "Work Makes Me Nervous": Overcome Anxiety & Develop the Confidence to Succeed" (Wiley), & " Social Anxiety: The Untold Story " (Andrew Kukes Foundation). He has been featured extensively on television, radio, and in print, including Oprah, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX, The New York Times, Newsday, The Chicago Tribune, and The Boston Globe.
http://www.social-anxiety.com

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