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Unformatted text preview: who manifest ophidiophobia
(fear of snakes) by first handling a snake
himself, then encouraging the clients to
handle it. HOW CAN SOCIAL FEARS BE REDUCED? Unlike specific phobias, which do not typically respond to psychotropic drugs, social fears are often reduced through medication ( Julien,
2008). Somewhat surprisingly, it is antidepressant medications that seem to be the drugs of
most help for this disorder, often more helpful than benzodiazepines or other kinds of
antianxiety medications (Burijon, 2007). ComFun6e_Ch04_C!.indd 113 12/10/09 11:16:19 AM ://CHAPTER 4
AP Photo/Jonas Ekstromer 114 Word limits
In 2004, Austrian author Elfriede Jelinek,
the Nobel Prize winner in literature,
had to accept this prestigious honor and
present her Nobel lecture by video transmission because she has a social phobia
that prevented her from attending the
festivities in Stockholm in person. At the same time, several types of psychotherapy have proved to be at least as effective
as medication at reducing social fears, and people helped by such psychological treatments appear less likely to relapse than those treated with medications alone (Rodebaugh,
Holaway, & Heimberg, 2004). This finding suggests to some clinicians that the psychological approaches should always be included in the treatment of social fears.
One psychological approach is exposure therapy, the behavioral intervention so effective with specific phobias. Exposure therapists encourage clients with social fears to
expose themselves to the dreaded social situations and to remain until their fears subside.
Usually the exposure is gradual, and it often includes homework assignments that are
carried out in the social situations. In addition, group therapy offers an ideal setting for
exposure treatments by allowing people to face social situations in an atmosphere of
support and caring (McEvoy, 2007). In one group, for example, a man who was afraid
that his hands would tremble in the presence of other people had to write on a blackboard in front of the group and serve tea to the other members (Emmelkamp, 1982).
Cognitive therapies have also been widely used to treat social fears, often in combination with behavioral techniques (Rosenberg et al., 2010; McEvoy, 2007). In the following discussion, Albert Ellis uses rational-emotive therapy to help a man who fears
he will be rejected if he speaks up at gatherings. The discussion took place after the
man had done a homework assignment in which he was to identify his negative social
expectations and force himself to say anything he had on his mind in social situations,
no matter how stupid it might seem to him: BETWEEN THE LINES
Young Dr. Ellis
Early in his career, in order to combat
his own social anxiety (as well as test his
theories), Albert Ellis sat on a park bench
in Manhattan’s Central Park day after
day for a year, asking out every woman
who passed by. << ComFun6e_Ch04_C!.indd 114 After two weeks of this assignment, the patient came into his next session of therapy and
reported: “I did what you told me to do...
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