What Happens at a Workshop - My experiences in 2006

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What Happens at a Workshop - My experiences in 2006

Post by rossco309 » Thu Feb 05, 2009 7:08 pm

Reflecting on My 1st AP Workshop attended in Sydney 20 - 22nd Jan 2006.

How can I describe my experiences at this Sydney workshop. Firstly I should explain that I have had medium to severe Avoidant Paruresis (AP) for about 45 years since my early teens. I had sought help from this anxiety disorder through the years from various doctors and a psychologist, who didn’t know that there was such a thing as paruresis (or shy bladder syndrome), and who also weren’t really able to help. It wasn’t until March 2005 that I stumbled across the IPA web site and found out all about paruresis. I immediately made contact with the Sydney Support Group through the original chat page. I bought a copy of Steven Soifer’s book “Shy Bladder Syndrome”, online from Booktopia, did the suggested early exercises, and started down the desensitisation road to recovery.

Back to the Sydney Workshop:-
Friday night:- a great time of informal fellowship with 18 strangers from all around Australia and one from NZ, where we all shared our paruresis stories. I was amazed how similar everyone’s experience was:- many starting off with a lot of shyness in childhood, anxiety problems, embarrassment, and bullying at urinals. This often seemed to be the start of our AP and then this led to a lifetime of avoiding public toilets as much as possible, and learning to hang on all day!!. In my case for 45 years!!!! I encouraged the younger men at the workshop to work at overcoming this problem now, while they are young, so that they would not have to live the rest of their life with this disorder. Some of those there were coming to their 2nd workshop and encouraged us first timers with their stories of how the 1st workshop had helped them. John & Russel explained the program for the next 2 days and we left for the evening.

Saturday:- started with group sessions where John or Russel explained some of the theories of Shy Bladder Syndrome and how we would set up the Pee Buddy system. We then broke for morning tea and plenty of water being drunk (fluid loading) in preparation for our pee buddy work to follow. As I had never really fluid loaded before I found out a lot about how my bladder works and what it really feels like to have a full bladder!!.
We then went with our pee buddy to the hotel rooms and started our graduated exposure work with each other depending where each of us felt comfortable. I found that I could initially start peeing with my buddy about 3m away outside the bathroom with the door open. By the end of the 1 hr session I had managed to progress so that my buddy was just standing about 1m from the open door. (thanks Derek for helping and listening).
We then all met up again as a group and debriefed and shared a time of questions etc.
We then broke up for a nice lunch provided by the hotel and more talking. As my bladder was still very full I found that I needed to have a pee and went to the 2 man urinal near where we were having lunch only to find that 2 Chinese gentlemen were there getting changed. With them directly behind me I found that I couldn’t start ( a misfire). I was so busting that I walked back over to the other public toilet in the building were our conference was being held and managed to pee in a single bowl urinal successfully.
After lunch John & Russel shared their stories of their AP experiences and how they had now fully recovered from AP.
We then chose new buddies and went to the hotel rooms to start our 2nd practice session.
As my buddy, Alan, found his electronic key would not open his door, and as we were both busting by this stage, we practiced together in the public toilet near the conference room. I found that I could start easily with Alan only about 1 ½m behind me and this was exhilarating. After a couple of brief 3 sec releases we then moved into his room where we continued our practice and I found that I could initiate the flow with him just outside the open door to the bathroom. (thanks Alan for your encouragement and support during this practice session)
Next was more debriefing and questions and afternoon tea.

For the 3rd practice session about 11 decided to go out into the real world and they walked across to the airport to use the busy toilets there. The other 7 of us stayed at the hotel and chatted as a group about many things, but mainly about our AP, and how it had affected our lives. Thanks to Paul, Kent & Will for the practice we did during that afternoon in the hotel urinals. Because of having others around who knew of my problem I found that my anxiety level was virtually zero by this stage and I was able to regularly pee in the single bowl urinal with someone only about 1m behind me.
We then broke up for the night with some going out for tea together and others like me going home to family.

Sunday:- Fluid loaded before arriving at the hotel helped tremendously and I found that I had no problem starting my flow with my new buddy, Kent, only just outside the door. We then switched buddies, and Hans and I were able to continue making good progress, with him standing almost next to me in the bathroom.
I was amazed how being fluid loaded, so that your urgency level is quite high, enabled me to regularly start my flow with others around. I now know that I often had tried to pee in a public toilet situation when my urgency level was no where near high enough. (recommended level is 7 or above on a urgency scale of 10).
We then had morning tea and Russel took us through some of his AP thesis results and some cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) information. John also shared with us his belief that relaxation can help tremendously to overcome paruresis, survival and recovery strategies and the need for perseverance, patience and persistence. John & Russel were thanked by all for such a great workshop and we then broke up at lunchtime so that some could go and practice further at the airport while they waited to catch their planes home.

What have I learned from this workshop:- That there are many others out there who suffer from this problem. Thankyou to the 17 on this workshop you have helped me tremendously by sharing your stories and supporting me through this workshop. I have learned not to fear when others are around in the urinal. I have to make sure my urgency level is 7 or above before attempting practice at public urinals or cubicles.


Since this workshop I have continued to attend the Sydney Support Group meetings most months for practice sessions with other sufferers, and attended an excellent 2nd Workshop in Sydney in Feb 2008. This continued desensing, along with my own spasmodic practice in the real world, has helped me move well down road to recovery. My life has been turned around, I no longer fear going out all day, travelling by train, bus or plane, and I am not afraid to use the men’s room when I need to !!!!

I hope that all the attendees at this coming Melbourne Workshop (20-22 nd Feb 2009) will benefit from it as much as I did in my first Workshop. All the best to you all.

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Re: What Happens at a Workshop - My experiences in 2006

Post by Derek » Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:21 pm

Thanks for your reflections Rossco,
My experiences were similar, and have helped to a very signficant level.
The first 12 months after a workshop is the time to keep the momentum going from the gains one has made.
Although I am still not "free" from the disorder per se, and may never totally be, it occupies very little head-space these days.
Only a few situations can still cause some concern (mainly travelling and enclosed spaces) , but these outings are limited any way, and am determined to improve in time.
I went to the Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre just recently and used the toilets quite easily with other/s present - one in the change rooms and one near the foyer.
I even thougtht about the Sydeny Olympics that I declined to attend ,after being offered free tickets!!!
This was way back in 2000, way before most of us had even heard of paruresis, or had any idea how to combat it.
The Sydney Olympics were on, and most paruretics would have been stuck at home watching it on TV.
This would not happen now.
My level of paruresis now is only moderate, however with the right determination one can do even better than I have.
Only circumstances have prevented multiple work-shop attendances, which is what is advocated by the IPA to really put AP hanging onto the ropes to survive.
Good luck to all Melbourne participants in making and sustaining life long gains in AP recovery.

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Re: What Happens at a Workshop - My experiences in 2006

Post by rossco309 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:32 am

WOW...this is my report from nearly 10 years ago. Great reading, and reminder about what an AP Workshop can do for you....

BTW The next Workshop is due early in 2016 in Sydney (date yet to be decided by John) !!!! Well worth planning to attend....

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Re: What Happens at a Workshop - My experiences in 2006

Post by eric » Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:25 am

Thanks for re-sharing your past experience Rossco. I'm looking forward to the workshop which will mean some travel from Perth. Cheers.

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Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:18 pm

Re: What Happens at a Workshop - My experiences in 2006

Post by rossco309 » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:44 am

G'day Eric,

all the best for the coming workshop. The travel from Perth will be worth it.
Please post afterwards to let us all know how it all went, and your experiences during the weekend.


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