Shy bladder syndrome, also known as paruresis, is not necessarily a medical problem. In fact, it’s more commonly considered an anxiety disorder, with a hypersensitive fight or flight reflex interfering with the mechanics of urination.

Affected individuals can struggle to urinate in a public toilet or in any situation when someone might be listening. This can have various repercussions — from simple embarrassment to avoiding long outings or trips, even forgoing career opportunities or missing family events. The condition may be connected to childhood trauma or just a genetic predisposition to anxiety. But whatever its origins or triggers, counselling may be what you need to help you get to the bottom of the problem.

The experienced therapists at Bayside Psychotherapy have extensive experience dealing with bladder emptying difficulties and paruresis, along with other effects of anxiety. With training in a wide range of therapy methodologies, our practitioners can tailor a course of treatment to your particular needs.

We also recommend you download our targeted self-hypnosis recording for Shy Bladder to complement your counselling.

Give us a call on (03) 9557 9113 or use our contact form to find out more about how we may be able to help you work through your difficulties with urination.

You can also book an appointment by using our online booking form for online appointments. Or, if you prefer, you can book an in-clinic session.

Let’s work together to find out if we’re able to stop your bladder issues from limiting your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Shy Bladder Syndrome is a condition where someone experiences high anxiety levels when they have to use the toilet in public places, usually because they’re afraid. Although not a mental illness, Shy Bladder Syndrome is classified as a social phobia and does indicate a mental health condition that needs support and treatment.

Sufferers of Shy Bladder Syndrome may avoid travelling, working and even socialising for fear of needing to pee in public. 

Being afraid to use a public toilet can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Although some paruresis sufferers can use a public toilet if there’s no one else around, others feel like they can only relieve themselves at home. In this case, the practical outcome of the anxiety is akin to agoraphobia, or the fear of public or open places.

Some people hold their urine as long as they can, waiting until they can find some privacy. This habit can lead to urinary tract infections, or even incontinence — having an ‘accident’ rather than resorting to using a public bathroom. Extreme cases can also result in kidney problems or even a ruptured bladder, a life-threatening injury. Other sufferers may restrict their fluid intake, which is never a good idea. Organising daily movements around access to toilets that you can tolerate is another possibility. Although that technique may be less high risk physically, it’s likely to have a flow-on effect on your mental health and your social life.

How much time and energy would it save if you could be comfortable using whichever public toilet is available? The social awkwardness and embarrassment that can result from shy bladder are also quite likely to make the problem worse, since they contribute to general anxiety. Counselling, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy treatment are often used to untangle the tangle of release fears and anxieties to help sufferers take back control.

Our counsellors take the time to learn about you and your situation. This enables us to tailor treatment methods or combine several approaches to come up with a plan to work best for you. All your treatment — whether face to face or remotely via a secure online platform — will be conducted in a safe, supportive and non-judgemental environment.

The causes and severity of your paruresis will be unique to you, so the duration of your treatment will also depend on your own circumstances and response to treatment. Some people may take just a few weeks, while others may need regular treatment over a long period to address more underlying issues. Your counsellor will assess your progress regularly to make sure your treatment is having the desired effect, and consult with you about when to start spacing out sessions in view of concluding them.

Think about how much easier your life would be without having to take your shy bladder into consideration every day.

Note Whilst we will do our best to assist you, we rely upon your commitment to and participation in the treatment process to optimise results. Although some of our therapists work with people presenting with this condition, no guarantees of any outcomes can be made.

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Therapists who do online

  • Adam Szmerling
  • Carolina Selvarajoo
  • Humaira Ansari
  • Kelli Tranter
  • Lawrence Akers
  • Natalie Szmerling

Therapists who do in-clinic

  • Adam Szmerling
  • Natalie Szmerling