The Career Doctor™
by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez
Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers?
Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist
specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of
your own, use our anonymous form, and she
might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here.
Contact information is here.
PHOBIAS ARE VERY CUREABLE
Last week I advised a reader that the quickest way to overcome a
public speaking phobia is to get a prescription for inderal. For most people,
one inderal tablet an hour before a speech blocks distressing symptoms like
blushing, shakey knees and closing throat. Inderal is a high blood pressure
medication used by performers because it doesn't dull the mind as tranquilizers
sometimes do. However, since many people do not want to, or can't, take medication,
here is the psychological cure for a public speaking phobia.
First, the good news: phobias are very cureable! Now the bad news: it can take quite a
while to cure a public speaking phobia because they tend to be rather complex. They are
complex because the fear tends to have many variables to it, for example, people tend to
be more afraid the more they know the audience, the less they know the subject, the longer
the speech or the larger the audience.
The standard method of curing a phobia is called "relaxation and desensitization," whereby
the therapist teaches the client to relax and then imagine themselves giving a speech.
This process proceeds until the client is able to truly imagine themselves speaking
without fear. Sound easy? Well, here's where it gets complex: The client and therapist
have to create a list of public speaking situations ranging from something so easy that it
would create very little fear (maybe just saying your name in front of three people) to
the most frightening situation (perhaps speaking to a large hostile audience about a
subject one does not know a great deal about.) Then they start with the least fearful
situation and only when the client becomes comfortable imagining this easy thing, do
they proceed to a slightly more frightening event. It is a step by step approach that
makes a person comfortable in their own mind before they actually tackle a real speaking
situation. And then, the client takes a step by step approach to real situations too.
This sounds like a waste of time to many people -- especially those without phobias.
They say, "Just gather your courage and get up and speak. You'll get used to it."
That "sink or swim" approach may work for people who are just a bit nervous, but it
definitely does not work for people who are truly afraid or phobic. It overwhelms a
phobic person with anxiety and actually makes the fear/phobia work. However, by taking
the opposite approach, calming the fear bit by bit while systematically building up comfort
and successful experiences, phobias are cured.
The Career Doctor
The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont
psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.
Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.