Social Anxiety Disorder and EFT

By Robin Bilazarian, LCSW, DCEP

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Social Anxiety Disorder is a crippling disease.  Those afflicted have debilitating panic attacks, racing heart, disorganized thoughts, fear of dying, losing control or fainting, embarrassing tremors and feel frantic in social situations. 

They fear being scrutinized and judged harshly, seeing others as a social threat.  They do not trust their bodies to be calm in these events.    It limits casual, spontaneous interactions and prohibits them from attending social gatherings.  They fear any performance situation.  Even riding the bus, eating in a restaurant or attending a movie can be feared.   

The anxiety can be specific as in public speaking or pervasive--severely limiting most social interaction.  They approach benign social interaction with the same trepidation as facing a firing squad.  Limited social interactions have a cumulative effect that they do not develop competent social skills, are keenly aware of this and thus feel even more vulnerable and defenseless.    

Initially, I explore their first or worst memory of when they felt this early in their life. I remember working with a delightful young woman who was too shy to date and did not see herself for the beauty she was.  Said with many tears, she had accepted she would always be alone. She remembered being rejected by a boy she liked in middle school. After quickly discussing how a young boy may not be the most stable person to obtain a lifetime opinion of one’s self, we used EFT to defuse this. Her laughing demeanor after EFT highlighted a definite and liberating shift had occurred. 

After clearing any past hurts and active memories, I use EFT on any and all remaining fears they have of social interactions in the future. This includes anxiety of walking into a party, (tune into your fear of walking into the party…); of smiling and saying hello to others, and of initiating small talk. With four petrified brides, I used EFT to clear and calm every aspect of their wedding, i.e. walking down the aisle with EVERYONE staring at them, saying their vows aloud, the father-daughter dance, etc.  They had wonderful times at their weddings and continue to use EFT in their lives.

Since they limited social interactions years ago, I believe good therapy removes the blocks using EFT, removes the fears of future interactions using EFT and then, gives them the new social skills to try. I ask them to do homework daily to always be ready to initiate small talk (weather, sports, current events, ambiance in the room, movies, television) as a conversation starter. I teach them how to interject them into conversation “so…can you believe the beautiful weather we had, or the horrible weather they have had in Florida, etc.”

With many, I add the Performance Enhancement Protocol of having them picture themselves calmly interacting while holding “under the eye” for 5 breaths and the “under the arm” for 5 breaths and repeating these two points until fully confident.

Using this formula, my recent client was another young woman stuck in a going nowhere 7 year relationship and too fearful of being alone to move on. She has now broken up with him, used internet dating safely and is dating seriously the fourth person she met –all within 3 months of ending her unhealthy relationship.


Author's Bio:

Robin Bilazarian, LCSW, DCEP, Mount Laurel, NJ, has used EFT for 13 years in private practice, a community mental health center and currently as an EAP counselor with staff in a regional trauma hospital. She is available to speak to your group or do private psychotherapy.




Christa Swanson
Posted April 06, 2010 02:32 AM

Hi Robin:

Thanks for the interesting article. Would you please explain more about the "Performance Enhancement Protocol" of holiding under the eye and under the arm? Where did you learn this? Why are you using these particular two spots?

Thank you very much,


Posted April 06, 2010 11:52 AM

hello robin i also would like to know about the holding under the eye and under the arm could you explain please thank you chris


Robin Bilazarian
Posted April 07, 2010 08:06 AM

Performance Enhancement Protocal was taught to me by John Diepold, PHd. It is useful in sports enhancement and other behaviors that people are anxious about. After clearing out the negative, ask the person to think about the positive behavior they desire, ie hit a double, walk comfortably into a crowded room, feel confident about taking a test, etc.

Ask the client what percentage of himself feels confident he can do this. Let's say the person says 80% confident. Ask him to hold lightly under the eye for 5 breathes and then under the arm for 5 breathes while thinking of this positive outcome he desires. Take another percentage reading. It will be higher, perhaps 85%. Continue this until it is a strong 100%.

I do not know why these points are selected, perhaps because both have been associated with anxiety. Hope this clarifies.
Best to you, Robin


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