Rejection therapy is a self-help activity in which participants put themselves through a series of rejections to decrease their anxiety. This relies on a concept known as flooding, where a patient is exposed repeatedly to a stimulus that causes anxiety and distress. Over time, the repeat exposure gradually desensitizes the patient to the stimulus. The game was developed by Jason Comely, who was searching for a method to address his anxiety disorder when he decided to put himself in challenging social situations to reduce his fears about interaction.
One common form of rejection therapy is a 30-day challenge. In the challenge, people must be rejected at least once a day for the full thirty days. The implication is that people should put themselves in situations where they need to ask for something and there’s a chance of rejection. These situations might range from handing out fliers at a subway stop to asking a coworker for help with a project.
Like other forms of self-help, rejection therapy is designed to be a self-directed activity. Participants do not work with a therapist or coach, although they can, or can discuss the rejection therapy as part of their overall activities if they are in counseling or coaching sessions. Prompt cards with suggestions for activities are available for people who have trouble coming up with ideas. There are also forums where people exchange ideas, advice, and support with each other as they complete the challenge or longer periods of rejection therapy.
Social rejection is a very common fear which can lead to decreased confidence and lower levels of social interaction. People who fear rejection may try to avoid situations where it might occur; this can involve taking fewer risks, living in greater isolation, and rarely asking people for things. In rejection therapy, people are forced to break these habits to achieve their goal of being rejected at least once a day. As they move through a series of rejections, they can process them to make the experience less frightening and upsetting.
Those who participate in rejection therapy can experience various outcomes, depending on their level of anxiety and how much work they put into it. For people with complex anxiety, it may help to see a therapist to discuss coping skills. Therapy sessions can also help patients process specific interactions, and may help them manage other feelings, like depression, that could arise while pursuing social rejection.