I did the therapy series when it was on CD's. I did it in 2007. Yes, it worked for me. I had to DO the series, and it took time, as it needs to for everyone. I mean my point is, even if this is silly to say, someone has to actually do the daily work of it for it to help, for you to see the changes gradually, for you to retrain these thinking habits. That is the way of describing it now. Back then, it wasn't as clear for me - just a confusing mess of pain and suffering and I felt I had no choice but to do the series.
So, when I found the Social Anxiety Institute's website in 2007, after looking around for some sort of testimonials or proof that the audio therapy program was real (which I couldn't find back then) I just bought the series because I felt hopeless anyway. In my mind, to try something was better than nothing. What convinced me was reading the website and relating to everything, believing the information there because it all matched my life so perfectly. We probably all know that feeling. What also appealed to me was that there was nothing mystical or spiritual in the message. Seemed to be logically based, and here was someone who was saying that overcoming social anxiety was actually possible - someone who had written about it so well, unlike from people I had read before.
And I did try many things before finding this therapy. I had forgotten how much I had tried until I found old notebooks and stuff at my parents' house, notebooks and diaries that I had kept. I really didn't even remember doing that stuff until I saw these notes. I had tried so many workbooks on anxiety - never helped me. I did all the exercises. Those things have all the rational side of it down, the information about how it's irrational, but I find those exercises do absolutely nothing. Actually they always made me feel like more of a failure. I did all that stuff and it never helped... just like other nonsense. And man, just workbooks anyway, I just hate that stuff - maybe because of so many years of doing these things that didn't work for me. Now I know, too, that those types of activities are passive in nature. If it works for you, good.
I tried other calming down stuff before, meditation. Things that I could never get to work for me. I tried escaping. I tried seeing therapists. They didn't get it. They said they got it, but they never knew how to get me out of it, despite saying they did. I tried therapists after I started the series, too. And groups - not here at SAI, but groups in my hometown. By then I knew about SA and the audio program but I needed to find a way to do behavioral stuff, so I was still quite anxious but at least able to seek help. Again, all those groups failed for me.
I have my opinions on this subject - what people should do. But it's just my opinion. You could easily argue that timing has a lot to do with it (but I don't necessarily agree - I mean I was seeking help from university years on, and 10 years later I finally found the right place for help, and it helped. What if I had found that 10 years before, or in middle school!! Would have potentially saved years of hell, as we all know). You could argue that I didn't have the right guidance for these other strategies that people find. The wrong yoga teacher or the wrong book on meditation? You could argue anything you want. I think all that stuff is great, for anyone... but if one wants to get over SA then you do something specifically designed for SA instead of taking the years of meandering and self discovery approach. That stuff got me nowhere fast. Actually just got me nowhere over a much longer time. And actually all those separate facets of slowing down techniques, being rational, mindfullness, etc blah blah, it's all part of the answer (and the therapy) but by itself not one was the answer for me, and I think for most people. But, I'm biased. I did mantras and stuff like that which I see people suggesting. Nope, that doesn't work straight away because my mind wouldn't accept such a reality until it had gone through the steps to get me to where I could start accepting that.
When I see people describe other ways that got them through this I think: 1.) good for them. 2.) perhaps you didn't need to take the long route 3.) the alternative solution they are describing is actually just rephrasing CBT or piecing together aspects that are CBT 4.) the solution they are describing might have worked for them because we are all different and I don't know how sever their anxiety was. and for the normal to severe cases of SA, no way. 5.) it's great we are sharing ideas but I shudder for those who need advice to make an opinion to find solutions 6.) people are naturally attracted to alternative ideas, like myself, and all the touchy-feely stuff of holistic whatever rather than just looking at some "longer" program. 7.) what do i know anyway! 8.) 8 is a lucky number...
Yeah, the series helped me. I should probably go back and edit this answer or redo the whole thing, but I'm not going to bother. I sometimes seem to tell people in the groups who want to ask, "are you cured?"... well, your definition of cured changes, and I hedge on my answer, but STOP. If I really remember my day to day struggles and the hellish prison that was my life, the answer would be YES, I overcame social anxiety with the help of this series primarily, and then using this series as a basis for the behavioral groups here, joining them and getting motivation from my buddies here. And that paved the way so that over time, I was able to face other things and continue learning how to get better, and other things sunk in over time for different reasons. And could I still get nervous or anxious over something now? Sure, of course. But that's not the definition of social anxiety disorder. That is not the real life of someone who is living in the torture of social anxiety disorder. It's more like the person you talk to who says, "Oh yeah, I get that... I get nervous too!" which you then know means they have no idea at all what real social anxiety is - it's just anxiety that every human experiences.
Oh, and footnote, I'm just NOW starting the updated series. As I said, I did the series before the update in 2007, did it probably two times through fully before coming here to a group. Then I was here for about a year in the local groups, and had reviewed the series a few more times by then. But just NOW am I actually going through the new series - I'm on Session 4... well, just starting 5 now. And wow... I used to think, when I saw them updating the old version - "Why fix what isn't broke? Why make the series even LONGER?!" Keep it simple, was what I was thinking. But now, doing it for the first time really, it's great. It's much better than the version I did. There's almost so much stuff packed in there that you really can't get it all. That's true anyway, you really need to repeat and repeat this thing, but I just see now how he really does answer all this stuff so much better than I ever did or do. He packs a lot of stuff into every bit of it. It's amazing really. I feel like telling people LISTEN TO IT MORE THAN YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT. Because previously my advice for anyone asking is that, you know, you listen to the audio once a week, just once if you understand it, and then you just do the daily work, right? I mean that's what I did. And maybe that's still all we really can do. But, I'm thinking now, yeah, listen to it more! For every single question on this forum, there is a sentence on there which answers it. The thing is that we are only ready to hear it when we are ready. I might be making a bigger deal of this than needs to be made. So, to put it more simply, I think the updated series as it is now is way better than the version before. It's probably enough just to get people to commit to a few minutes a day, which likely turns into more anyway, once you've opened the book and start your out loud slow talk/reading. That's all you need to worry about. That will get you there. And when you're through with that, repeat it in a way that works for you, and keep driving these points home, even when you don't feel them to be true, keep driving these points home until the ANTs stand no chance at all and just shrink, and shrink.... and, well, ... you know the rest.