Acceptance Commitment Therapy for Social Anxiety with Empower Counseling in Birmingham, Alabama
Do you feel awkward social situations? When you are around others, do you worry about what to say? After you have been in a social situation, do you stay in your head going over everything you said and did? It is exhausting, isn’t it? If you struggle in social situations, or avoid them altogether because subjecting yourself to social situations is just too difficult, Acceptance Commitment Therapy with Empower Counseling for social anxiety might be the answer.
If you have read any of my other blog posts, you already know that Empower Counseling specializes in using Acceptance Commitment Therapy for all forms of anxiety, including, but not limited to, social anxiety. You might be wondering, what is the big deal? Isn’t all therapy alike. No my friend, it is not. Different types of therapy are indicated for different types of issues. When I say indicated, I mean that certain therapies are scientifically proven, through research, to be effective in helping or solving certain issues. Acceptance Commitment Therapy is scientifically proven to help or relieve many issues, including all forms of anxiety, depression, difficult life transitions, and more when in individual therapy, couples, or group.
So let us start with what might be your first question.
What is Acceptance Commitment Therapy?
Acceptance Commitment Therapy is a higher order cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is different that other forms of traditional therapy. Have you ever noticed the more you try to avoid your anxiety, the stronger it gets and the less you are able to do? Maybe you began giving into your anxiety by not going to the grocery store, having your groceries delivered, because you thought, “I get anxious when I am around a lot of people, especially at the grocery store, so if I don’t go to the store, my anxiety will leave me alone.” And that did not work. So maybe there were other things you used to do or places you used to go that stirred up anxiety, so you stopped do those things or going to those places. Did the anxiety go away? Based on the hundreds of clients I have seen with anxiety, I am thinking your anxiety did not go away, but that you became even more afraid of social situations. You are definitely not alone.
Your brain is normal. It is normal to want to avoid things that are uncomfortable. The problem is that avoidance only makes all forms of anxiety worse, including social anxiety.
Acceptance Commitment Therapy for Social Anxiety with Empower Counseling
Acceptance Commitment Therapy is different because instead of avoiding anxiety, we attack the thoughts and beliefs that are causing the anxiety. We meet anxiety head on by uncovering how you talk to yourself and what thoughts you are having that are causing you such discomfort. We don’t stop there though. We will also look at your behavior. Is your current behavior helping you or making your situation worse? Is you life shrinking, getting smaller because you are avoiding situations that create anxiety? When you stop doing certain things because of anxiety, your life gets smaller, you won’t like or trust yourself, and the likelihood of depression arises. If you are not proud of who you are, and you aren’t doing the things you want to do or know you need to do, life will not get better.
Instead, when we uncover the thoughts causing your anxiety and avoidance, we can take small steps toward what makes you anxious. You might be thinking this sounds wrong….”Why would I want to take steps toward my anxiety?”. By accepting that anxiety might be present, as you take very small actions toward what is important to you, your symptoms of anxiety will quiet down.
By taking the actions you want to take, with the anxiety present, you will see that you can handle the anxiety. When you stop pushing it away, and taking courageous action toward what you value, something beautiful happens. You are so focused on what you want your life to look like and the action that will get you to that life, anxiety loses its hold on you. That’s right, by not focusing on pushing anxiety away, by not wresting with and staying entangled in your anxious, worrisome thoughts, anxiety loses its grip on you.
Years ago before becoming advanced trained in ACT, I used cognitive behavioral therapy.
CBT is an effective form of therapy but it does not work for all. With CBT, you are taught to dispute your negative thoughts with the evidence that these thoughts are untrue. While using CBT, I noticed many of my clients would become further entangled in their anxious thoughts when working to dispute them. This is what we don’t want, you spending more time in your head arguing with unhelpful thoughts that create anxiety. That is when I researched other forms of therapy that might be more effective for my clients with anxiety. Through my research, I found ACT. It made sense to me that instead of spending more time with anxious thoughts, like with CBT, with act you label these thoughts as unhelpful to you and let them go. Then you point yourself toward action and getting back to enjoying your life instead of staying in your own head.
I have seen the different ACT has made with my clients, with all forms on anxiety, including GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), SAD (social anxiety disorder), etc.
If you what you have been doing for your social anxiety has not been working, maybe it is time to try Acceptance Commitment Therapy for social anxiety with Empower Counseling. All three of our knowledgeable and compassionate therapists, Kathryn, Adam, and Kristine are trained in ACT. We even have evening and weekend appointments available – in-person and online– to accommodate your schedule.
At our Birmingham area counseling clinic we are accepting new clients! Our office serves Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia, Hoover, and all surrounding Birmingham areas, we older children, teens, college students, young adults, and adults. Not only do we specialize in ACT for anxiety therapy, ACT works extremely well for depression, addiction, and difficult life transitions.
Reach out to Empower today by calling 205-730-6570.