A question we get a lot here at the Social Anxiety Institute is if one should do the audio therapy series or see a therapist, OR if one should do the audio therapy series with a therapist / will a therapist use this audio therapy series or their own program? I think your question is similar to these.
If someone asks me if they should see a therapist OR do the series:
Seeing a therapist can be therapeutic in other ways. Just the act of going to see someone, being proactive, being able to discuss worries out loud and have rational feedback from a therapist - all those things are good. Are they necessary if someone does not have access to a therapist? No, not in my opinion, because the series is structured as if you were seeing a therapist (granted you don’t have the face to face aspect / group dynamic… but all in good time, take it step by step). And most of us aren’t fortunate enough to be near a therapist who understands this enough to know how to effectively treat it.
Now to the “OR” part of this - this is assuming that seeing a therapist is independent of doing some structured CBT program. There needs to be some structured program, CBT, brain learning therapy, structured with repetition daily. This is what you are doing now, right?, with the audio therapy series. So, when someone seems to indicate that they might see a therapist and not do “Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step” then I ask them to ask the therapist what structured program the therapist provides. I think you all know by now that the real work of overcoming social anxiety is our daily practice, steady and persistent, building over time. The real work of change does not come in seeing a therapist once a week only to discuss the concepts. The real work for anyone here in our groups is not just the group time. Yes, that behavioral therapy is part of it, but the real work is still their daily therapy practice at home, etc. So whatever therapist you may go to, naturally you would want to know what they are doing for you to help you overcome social anxiety.
Likely when you ask a therapist they will be assuring. They will say they understand social anxiety and they will be able to help you. Okay, but how? With what? Then if they do have some experience, is their “program” structured step by step and fully aware of how deep this goes? Is there program more structured and cohesive than simple worksheets or workbooks? Are they using some other workbook out there? If so, what is it. Take a look. Decide for yourself if they are providing a structured program that truly understands the steps needed here.
I say the above because I’ve talked to plenty of therapists before coming to SAI. They all said they knew what to do for me. None had a structured plan. None really understood it. I hate to say that, but this is my experience. And I truly hope you can find good therapists and tell us about it so that we can share that information with others. We never get this feedback. NEVER. There used to be a few groups we heard of and a therapist in L.A. He has since retired and we don’t hear about any other active groups. We don’t get reviews from their members. Again, if you find a good therapist, please let us know.
So if I have not found another therapist with a good plan, a structured program, I don’t personally see our program as being in conflict with something that person doesn’t provide. The therapist could then use the audio therapy series with you. That could be perfect. You would be doing something socially proactive, support from a human being, while using what I know to be a good series for overcoming social anxiety.
But, will the therapist be willing to use this program? I hope so. Maybe? Maybe not. I would think that if you tell your therapist that you want their help to help you go through THIS audio therapy, then that therapist should say yes. After all, they’re getting paid to do their job. After all, you would think they should want to help you. Don’t be scared to speak up for your opinion. You are the client.
But here’s the thing that I have noticed, from some personal experience and from hearing from others’ experiences - many therapists aren’t that interested, it seems, at least not interested enough, to look into the audio therapy series enough to understand it. I guess that makes sense. You might have a therapist who believes their way is the right way. Okay, that’s a certain kind of person. You might also just have a therapist, and understandably so, who doesn’t have the time / won’t take the time to go through all of the series. You already know how much time and work and dedication it takes. Will another therapist really listen to the audio and go through the handouts like we do to fully understand this? I have not found that to be the case for me. Perhaps other therapists will and I hope so. Perhaps even they do not need to fully go through it all, as long as they are supportive and as long as they understand the concepts. This is not perfect, but it’s better than nothing right?
We rarely EVER get emails from other therapists who are interested in our work here. There are plenty of therapists/psychologists in this world, trying to help people with anxiety disorders. You might think at least a few would contact us about the series, to help their own clients, right? Not really. We did have one, and he was the therapist in L.A. And other informal groups of people with social anxiety reach out to us. But, licensed professionals beyond this do not contact us hardly ever about using the series. I’d be happy if they did. Now, a few months ago we received one email from a psychologist interested in using the audio therapy series. Good intentions and I’m happy to hear from such a person. I was surprised, however, by her questions about social anxiety in general. She noted she works with social anxiety patients and then proceeded to ask questions about th therapy series which showed me she had not looked at the series at all. She did not understand the difference between the book of handouts and the audio therapy. You might say these are innocent questions. Okay, sure. And I answered those questions. I was still surprised that the person had looked at the book of handouts and didn’t know how to apply or use them in a structured way.
To answer your question - if you find a therapist, why not insist on that therapist helping you get through THIS therapy series. Perhaps that will also help you find a therapist who is good for you, someone who is open to helping you in the way that you are currently working on, a way which you know to be a good one. I don’t see a reason to make this more work by doing 2 programs at once, whatever that would mean.