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Glossary of Terms

Treatment for Shyness

Treatment for Shyness is mainly psychological. Some professionals use medication, especially those who do not distinguish between Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder. Those who do distinguish between them use almost solely psychotherapy, since the anxiety levels are mild or moderate.

Psychotherapies apply to any difficulty in the mental or psychological arena, but some therapists dedicate themselves more to some of them, as is the case in Shyness and the Anxiety disoders. There are dozens of approaches, but few of them are based on theoretical models and/or consistent experiments.

In order to facilitate understanding of this diversity, two examples illustrate different ways to work with psychological problems. For pedagogical purposes, psychotherapies enjoying more prestige in academia and among professionals can be broken down into two major groups: psychodynamic and behavioral.

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As its name indicates, the psychodynamic group understands that there is a psychic dynamic to the disorder. The descriptions of these dynamics vary with the Personality Theories on which each psychotherapy is based. Many are not supported by theories, but by general statements on the psychological development of human beings.

Client-Centered Therapy - This psychodynamics approach formulated by psychologist Carl R. Rogers is shown here as an example. It is based on its author's conviction that the human being is essentially good, developing himself or herself in social integration and harmony between the organism and the concepts it assimilates, provided that the environmental conditions are favorable. If certain adversities occur, internal disagreements and contradictory criteria by which to evaluate oneself and the world arise, and then anxiety sets in. If the therapist offers an environment of acceptance, comprehension and a genuine interest for her client's welfare, the client tends to seek a better self-knowledge, to better order concepts, and to make choices which are more coherent with what her organism indicates. She thus frees innate constructive forces. Hence, a successful therapy is one that updates the self. In Shyness, for instance, the client makes many negative references to himself at the start of therapy, but, as sessions succeed each other, this changes. The dynamics of the person's development, which led to anxiety, undergo a change due to propitious psychotherapy conditions.

The set of psychodynamics psychotherapies is very heterogeneous, since they are based on very different theories or statements. They share the understanding that the changes in the individual result from changes in the psychological processes.

The other group of approaches, generically known as behavioral, is a bit more homogeneous. Initial formulations were based on Behavior Analysis, developed by B. F. Skinner. In the field of experimental research, Behavioral Analysis has expanded Pawlow's concepts on conditioned reflex. Clinical application of these studies essentially consists in replacing organism-learned responses by others—for instance, substituting the anxiety response in a social performance situation with a body relaxation response.

Clinical Behavior Therapy - Arnould A. Lazarus has structured an application of the Behavioral Analysis in the clinic. It consists in surveying situations in which a person experiments anxiety and ordering such situations as per the intensity of the anxiety. Hence, the situations are placed into a hierarchy, starting with the situation causing very low anxiety and ending with that which causes the highest anxiety. In another stage, the person is placed in a state of muscle relaxation and stimulated to mentally reproduce the image of the situation causing the lowest anxiety. The exercise is repeated a few times and one then moves on to the mental image of the situation that causes a little higher anxiety, pursuant to the hierarchy. This goes on for several sessions and it is expected that the organism learn to relax in all situations to which it otherwise responded with anxiety.

Many therapists have merged this Lazarus technique with others—such as instead of the person imagining a situation, he is faced with the concrete situation and encouraged to rationally tackle the threat head-on. Variations like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy currently enjoy much prestige as one of the more effective forms for treating Anxiety Disorders, such as Social Anxiety Disorder and, naturally by extension, for the treatment of Shyness.

Related Pages:
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Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder: Neurophysiological Approach

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Questions and Answers on Shyness

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