Anatomy of an Online Recovery Group


Personal • Group • Corporate     Seminars • Workshops • Groups

ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing science and clinically-practical methods. These include proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and techniques designed towards the recovery and reinvigoration of self-esteem disrupted by the adolescent onset of dysfunction. 

The suspension of on-site workshops due to pandemic restrictions compelled ReChanneling to focus on online recovery groups, broadening our outreach from local to national participation. Our social anxiety group, for example, includes persons from SF, Vancouver, NYC, Riverside, Taos, Tracy, Los Angeles, Houston, and so on. Although we will be reinstituting on-site workshops next year, we will continue our online recovery work with persons nationally. 

Rechanneling’s focus on recovery from anxiety and depression has expanded to the comorbidities that factor into groups and workshops. In one anxiety Recovery Group, comorbidities included major depression, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and substance abuse. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America and other expert organizations report multiple dysfunctions related to social anxiety including major depression, panic disorder, alcohol abuse, PTSD, avoidant personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, schizophrenia, ADHD, and agoraphobia. Well over 60% of individuals with anxiety also have depression are both are commonly associated with substance abuse. They can all be treated by the same paradigmatic approach that fosters self-reliance, determination, and perseverance. This overview focuses on social anxiety and, by design, its multiple comorbidities.

The symptomatic similarities impacting disorders and neuroses are established by cause and origin. Cumulative evidence that a toxic childhood leads to psychological complications has been well-established, as has the recognition of early exploitation as a primary causal factor in lifetime emotional instability. It has been determined that the onset of dysfunction happens in adolescence or earlier as a consequence of childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance. This causes a disruption in natural human development negatively impacting the satisfaction of self-esteem. In those cases of later onset of some PTSD and clinical narcissism, the susceptibility originates in childhood. 

The Online Recovery Group.

Logistics. Lecture halls can accommodate hundreds of people; a workshop, perhaps 15. A targeted Recovery Group is most effective with a maximum of 10 on-site participants, and six or fewer online 

Composition. Constructing the human component of a Recovery Group is akin to assembling a jury. Compatibility of diagnoses is important. Individuals with anxiety and depression function well together; combining narcissistic personality with social anxiety disorder might be unwise. Sex, race, education, region, and sexual orientation do not factor in as much as political, philosophical, and religious leanings; tolerance and compatibility are essential. Adolescents function best in their own environment. The severity of diagnosis, determined by a series of evaluation forms, is rarely a factor in neuroses; psychoses require medical intervention. The final determination of compatibility within a Recovery Group can be assessed during the initial group interaction.

A healthy composition of shared experiences produces a supportive, collegial atmosphere where individuals are comfortable delving into issues and activities that might otherwise be emotionally or culturally prohibitive. 

Confidentiality. Roughly two-thirds of persons with diagnosable disorders do not disclose or seek recovery due to several justifiable attributions – public opinion, media misrepresentation, visibility, stigma, etc. The symptoms and traits of dysfunction generate a reticence to self-revelation. Three levels of confidentiality are established to address this: (1) information shared within the group says within the group, (2) personal information revealed in written exercise is addressed individually, and (3) some personal information important to self-evaluation can remain with the individual; the objective is personal revelation. 

Objectives. The primary objective of a Recovery Group is to provide the tools and techniques to dramatically mitigate the symptoms and traits of anxiety, depression, and their comorbidities. 

Recovery is an individual process. Just as there is no one right way to do or experience recovery, so also what helps us at one time in our life may not help us at another. One-size-fits-all treatment programs are inefficient. Any evaluation and treatment program must comprehensively address the dynamic complexity of the individual personality. Recovery Groups must consider the groups’ environment, culture, history, and autobiography in conjunction with individual wants, needs, and aspirations. Absent that, complexity and distinction are not valued, and the treatment is inadequate.

Our integration of approaches includes proactive neuroplasticity via the deliberate repetition of neural information (DRNI); cognitive-behavioral therapy’s behavior modification; positive psychology’s optimal functioning, and subjective experience; and targeted supported and non-traditional approaches utilized to reinvigorate self-esteem and address maladaptive and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors.

Each approach collaborates with and supports the others.

Proactive Neuroplasticity. What is significant is the individual’s ability to dramatically accelerate learning and modification by deliberately compelling our brain to repattern its neural circuitry. DRNI or deliberate, repetitive, neural information empowers the individual to proactively transform thoughts, behaviors, and perspectives, creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities. It generates the chemical and hormonal neurotransmitters that improve memory and concentration. It provides GABA for relaxation, serotonin and dopamine for pleasure and motivation, and endorphins for euphoria; it decreases the transmission of the fear and anxiety-provoking hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. Neurotransmitters assist in motivating and supporting recovery. Proactive neuroplasticity through DRNI is the most potent and effective means of learning and unlearning.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  Social anxiety stems from negative, irrational thinking and behavior caused by ingrained reactions to situations and conditions. CBT trains the individual to recognize these automatic negative thoughts and behaviors (ANTs), replacing them with healthy rational ones (ARTs) until they become automatic and permanent. The behavioral component of CBT involves activities that reinforce the process. CBT is structured, goal-oriented, and focused on the present and the solution. 

Positive Psychology emphasizes the positive while managing and processing the negative to achieve optimal functioning. PP focuses on the character strengths, virtues, and attributes that help the individual transform and flourish. Positive Psychology’s mental health interventions have proved successful in mitigating the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other self-destructive patterns. Growing research shows that PP interventions produce significant improvements in emotional wellbeing while decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Self-Esteem Recovery and Revitalization is achieved through a series of clinically proven exercises to help the individual rediscover and reinvigorate the self-esteem disenabled by childhood experience, the onset of dysfunction, and the subsequent disruption in natural human development.

The ultimate objectives of a Recovery Group are:

  • To provide the tools and techniques to replace years of toxic thoughts and behaviors with rational, healthy ones, dramatically alleviating the self-destructive symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other dysfunctions
  • To compel the rediscovery and reinvigoration of the individual’s character strengths, virtues, and attributes.
  • To design a targeted behavioral modification process to help the individual re-engage their social comfort and status.
  • To provide the individual the means to control their dysfunction, rather than allowing it to control them.

The main components utilized in our Recovery Group include psycho-education, cognitive comprehension, roleplay, exposure, and homework.

Psycho-Education involves teaching individuals about the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and physiological reactions. Complementarity is the inherent cooperation of our human system components in maintaining physiological equilibrium. It is mind, body, spirit, and emotions working in concert. This cooperation extends to our emotions, i.e., the complementarity of anger, laugher, pride, sadness, etc. Sustainability of our dysfunction as well as efforts to recover require and engage simultaneous mutual interaction.

Cognitive Comprehension involves correcting negative or inaccurate cognitions by identifying distorted thoughts and developing rational replies. It is based on the premise that dysfunction compels individuals to avoid the reality of their symptomatic negative self-image and beliefs, generating inaccurate, biased processing while in social situations.

Roleplay is geared towards addressing fear and anxiety-provoking situations specific to the individual. Participants act out various social roles in dramatic situations that, through comprehension and repetition, compel a change in attitudes and engage different ways of coping with stresses and conflicts.

Exposure is designed to elicit the individual’s fears, allowing them to recognize they are irrational and unfounded. In imaginal exposure, the individual is asked to visualize and describe the feared stimulus. By logically addressing it and utilizing techniques like the vertical arrow, they experience a decrease in anxiety over time. In vivo exposure allows the individual to confront feared stimuli in real-world conditions.

Homework is designed to help the individual identify distorted thoughts when they occur naturally and consists of exercises individuals that encourage self-evaluation that leads to rediscovery and recognition of worth and potential. Because the participants experience different degrees of social anxiety and different social triggers, the homework assignments are geared and designed towards individual responses which are confidentially addressed and developed between the participant and facilitator. 

Positive Personal Affirmations
Character Resume
Plan for Exposure Situation
Vertical Arrow Technique
Shame, Blame, and Guilt
Positive Autobiography

Deliberate conversations
Affirmative Visualization
Slow-talk, slow thinking
Cognitive Distortions
Negative, pressure, conditional words
ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)
Moderating Exposure Situations
Coping skills
Others TBD

These are active, structured Recovery Groups for people who are willing and motivated to address the symptoms of their dysfunction. This means we can only work with self-motivated and committed individuals. We cannot accept people or continue to support them unless they are willing to participate in the discussions and exercises. While progress is exponential, goals are not met overnight. Recovery is a lifelong work-in-progress.

On-site workshops will resume post-pandemic. Individual short and long-term recovery support is also available to a select few. 

For further information or to request an interview, please fill out the following form.


Michael Z. – “I have lived with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) for as long as I can remember. It has overwhelmed me many times throughout my life, especially in avoiding crowds of people such as meet ‘n greets, conferences, picnics in the park, etc. I have always made the excuse that I cannot attend an event because my SAD would go into overdrive, fearing the upcoming event, always feeling “less” than others that will be there. Especially if my brain thinks the event will be “clicky.”

Our recovery group focuses on neuroplasticity (reprogramming the brain). The work brings up a lot of SAD feelings about the past and present. There are several straightforward assignments to complete while in recovery. It’s amazing what feelings come up when I’m assigned these exercises. I’ve learned:

  • My SAD does not rule me nor is it my fault that I have it.
  • How to transform any SAD negative thoughts into nurturing myself through daily affirmations

I feel more confident about attending a social gathering. Sure, I still have SAD, but now I have a plan how I can attend an event and feel more comfortable mingling with others. I like Robert’s SAD recovery program, especially how it’s taking many of my negative thoughts away and replacing them with positive ones. I also appreciate the others that are in our recovery group, as we all mingle quite well. And, of course, Robert is always there as nurturing and positive friend.”     

Matty S. – “It doesn’t come easy. Having the tools is just the start. Really understanding them all is still a challenge and the constant, long-term repetitiveness of DRNI is brutal. I’m not perfect by any means and I fall back a lot. I remember you said to consider projected failure as a process of learning, and setbacks are only possible with progress. Life is much better. I came into the program registering about a 9 out of 10 on the Richter scale of anxiety and depression. I’m now between 3 and 5 and working to get even more in control. I would give the practicum the most credit, but it taught me that I’m the captain of my ship, so I take credit and pride for hanging in there …                                                                   

Jose Garcia Silva, Ph.D.“I have never encountered such an efficient professional … His work transpires dedication, care, and love for what he does.”                                                                            

Leon V. – “I love his classes because the only pressure comes from within, not from the instructor, who clearly loves and knows what he is doing.                                                                                         

Janice Parker, Ph.D.“I am simply in awe at the writing, an individual’s insights, an individual’s deep knowing of transcendence, an individual’s intuitive understanding of psychic-physical pain, an individual’s connection of the pain to healing, an individual’s concept/title, and above all, an individual’s innate compassion …”                                                             

David C – “I’ve been unhappy and angry for as long as I can remember.  I hated my life and I was unhappy at work. I didn’t have anyone to confide in. When you kept pushing that cognitive stuff I was ready to walk, but you persuaded me that that was my social anxiety looking for an excuse to quit on myself. I don’t do as much of the positive repetitions as I should, but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel and that’s something I didn’t have before you. As far as I concerned, that pretty much says it all.”              

Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to the research and development of methods to alleviate symptoms of physiological dysfunction and discomfort. Our vision is to reshape the current pathographic emphasis on diagnoses over the individual, which fosters a deficit, disease model of human behavior. Treatment programs must disavow ineffective, one-size-fits-all approaches and target the individual personality through communication, empathy, collaboration, and integration of historically and clinically practical methods. All donations support scholarships for workshops and practicums.

1 thought on “Anatomy of an Online Recovery Group

  1. A note to those of you who are fed up with your social anxiety and depression. I attended two on-site recovery programs hosted by Dr. Mullen. He is considered a leading expert on anxiety and depression, etc. If you want to regain your sense of self-worth and competence, you may want to consider recovery. It’s a bit of work but the self-reliance and self-confidence (and even joy) you will rediscover is well worth the effort.


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