It is such a privilege working with young people and their families and one I take very very seriously. My work sees me helping people approach rather than avoid situations.
I spend a lot of my time reflecting on my time with avoidant people and how to make difficult things easier and also questioning whether in making it easier I may not be helping.
I am constantly on the look out for books that help me to do difficult things better and came across a gift of a book: Exposure Therapy for Anxiety which is written by Jonathan Abramowitz and his colleagues. It is a recent book having been published last year (2019).
I loved the book in that it helped me scrutinise my work and helpfully steered me towards doing exposure work even more effectively. Although it wont necessarily lessen the stress of facing up to what is avoided, it gives me the courage to keep on helping young people when it gets tough – and in a caring way.
I guess the only shortcoming that stuck out for me was the very only occasional minimising of the experience for people who find their anxiety overwhelming. The chapter on social anxiety (like all the other chapters) is full of helping strategies but I wish they didn’t write as if confronting social situations is that easy. The nature of social anxiety often means that young people beat themselves up for some of the things they said or things they did, or didn’t say or didn’t do at a social event. Its often the hours after that the person dreads.
There has been research (I need to relook for it) that says if we interrupt the post-mortem process following a public outing then this may reduce the negative impact and encourage future socialising. Of course, we need to do this without somehow giving the message that experiencing negative emotion is a truly awful thing.
The book borrowed from a local trust library is now on my buying list and one that I will be recommending to the students I teach.