The New Face of Anxiety: Treating Anxiety Disorders in the Age of Texting, Social Media and 24/7 Internet Access – Margaret Wehrenberg
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Texting rather than talking. Gathering “likes” and followers. Making friends via a gaming console. Unrelenting 24/7 news cycles.
Ready or not, the rise of social media and 24/7 Internet access has changed the way we relate to one another (and ourselves), leaving in its wake a whole new set of challenges for those who use it. As therapists, you see people of all ages with these issues: The girl who can’t put her phone away during session. The boy who isn’t sleeping after reading messages on social media.
“Friends” of all ages who shame each other for life choices and argue by text. The socially anxious young adult who struggles to meet people in person because all of his “friends” are online. The parent who has to contend with “Facebook shaming” for every parenting decision. The older adult who feels out of touch and disconnected. The impact is rampant and pervasive – as a result, treatment of anxiety doesn’t look the same anymore.
Watch this unique and engaging recording to learn innovative ways to treat this new facet of anxiety with today’s client.
Key questions to ask at assessment to uncover problematic use of technology
How excessive screen time effects mood, anxiety and self-worth in clients of all ages
Tools to help clients regulate their emotions and make wise decisions (on and offline)
Innovative techniques for promoting healthy use of technology with clients
Deliberate strategies for managing time, device use and “information overload”
Evaluate the impact persistent “screen time” exposure can have on the neurobiological and psychological health of clients.
Implement strategies to effectively reduce excessive use of technology that leads to avoidance and increased anxiety.
Increase clients’ capacity to utilize technology in a healthy manner to decrease risk of anxiety and other mental health symptoms.
Establish clinical practices that decrease rumination and build resilience to the stress of the digital world.
Teach clients five strategies for overcoming irrational fears of social interaction in order to improve clinical outcomes.
Implement cognitive-behavioral strategies for challenging distorted beliefs and the “comparison fallacy” as related to online interactions.
Neurobiology: The Impact of 24/7 Internet and “Information Overload”
Is it an addiction? The role of dopamine
Variable interval rewards: The most powerful reinforcement
Perpetual state of “fight or flight”
Impact of technology on the prefrontal cortex
“Multi-tasking”: Changing the landscape of learning
The impact of screen time on rumination
Impulse control at all ages: Instant v. delayed gratification
Why the Increase in Anxiety?
Understand the Problem to Help Clients Find Solutions
The psychological hook of “checking in”
Broad skills deficits for coping with normal situations
Collective anxiety due to 24/7 news cycles
Illusions of perfection online
New fears created/exacerbated by digital media:Negative evaluation/rejection
Having behavior recorded or posted publicly
Fear of missing out (FOMO)
Taking on responsibilities (“Adulting”)
Use of technology to avoid emotional experiences
The meaning of “friend” has changed
Cyberbullying at all ages: The power of anonymity
Strategies that Promote Healthy Use of Technology
Key questions that uncover anxiety related to digital media use
Techniques for providing meaningful psychoeducation
Use “demand delays” to diminish impact of rapid screen shifting
Tools for setting device boundaries to create more balance
“Be still” techniques to tolerate time away from devices
Therapy Tools to Improve Emotional Regulation, Reduce Anxiety and Build Self-Worth
How to provide meaningful psychoeducation
The 3 C’s: Calm, Competent and Confident
Accurate anticipation: The power of imagination exposure
Techniques for teaching social skills
5 ways to overcome fears of social situations
Utilize FOMO (fear of missing out) as a tool for goal development
Address “adulting” fears
Challenge the “comparison fallacy” of online interactions
Identify and challenge distorted beliefs about the self
Create new self-talk by changing the script
Combat perfectionism and procrastination
Ellis’ ABCD approach to identify inhibiting beliefs
Eliminate the stressor – incorporate media “time outs”
Manage time and environment
Relaxation and Mindfulness
Skills for calming the persistently vigilant nervous system
Interrupt rumination and build resilience
Apps that promote calming breathing techniques
Identify and address personal bias/countertransference issues
Between-session recommendations that reinforce skills
Limitations of the research and potential risks
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