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uk paruresis trust

what is paruresis?

We think it is: "An inability to urinate in the presence, real or perceived, of others". Common names for the condition are Shy Bladder, Bashful Bladder or Pee Shy. A medical description is Psychogenic Urinary Retention. It affects both men and women, of all ages and backgrounds. Sufferers are often called Avoidant Paruretics (or APs for short), meaning that their paruresis manifests itself in avoiding the situations that inhibit them from being able to pee. For a more detailed insight as to how this may affect the individual, including the implications of workplace urine testing click here.

The condition was first researched and defined by Williams and Degenhardt in their paper "Paruresis: a Survey of a Disorder of Micturition" published in the Journal of General Psychology, 1954, 51, 19-29.

This condition can also affect people's ability to defecate, though by its nature this is usually less of a problem - an information site about this may be found at:

If this does not describe your condition, but you do have a toilet related phobia, try the UK Toilet Phobia Internet Group:

who is behind the UK paruresis trust?

We are a small group of volunteers who have one thing in common - we all have AP to a greater or lesser extent. We first met via Richard Z's U.S. website (which is no longer in existence) and then set up the UK site. More people joined in after finding the UK site. We first met informally in spring 1999, and have met on and off ever since. The association was set up in July 2002, became a charity in December 2002, and a charitable trust in 2005. Humour, trust, intelligent cut and thrust, friendship and empathy are all bywords for the meetings.

how can I be cured?

There may be no 100% cure. Like alcoholism and smoking, it's probably impossible to completely "unlearn" this thing. However techniques of cognitive therapy can help a lot; we use this at our weekend workshops and most participants report such a significant benefit that they enthusiastically recommend the workshop route as a way forward; further information is on this website. We believe that talking with as many of ourselves as possible is helpful, and so a discussion board is available.

whom do I contact?

You can contact Andrew by or by post - see the bottom of the page. Alternatively, seek out other AP's on the UKPT Discussion Board where we maintain an active presence.

what does the trust do?

The trusts aims are:

The relief of persons suffering from the social anxiety Avoidant Paruresis (aka Shy Bladder Syndrome), particularly by:

  1. the provision of internet based information and support
  2. the promotion and provision of local support groups
  3. the provision of desensitisation workshops
  4. the promotion of the concept of individual privacy in the design of public toilets
  5. the promotion of research into all aspects of the condition, particularly its cause and treatment
  6. the raising of public awareness, including that of the medical profession

the provision of internet based information and support

You've already found our website. On this we are gradually building up pages of useful information. Click here to go to our discussion board. There you can read messages posted by others, you can post yourself, and you can reply to existing posts. Use it to ask questions, seek support, or just tell your story. You can be as anonymous as you like. Just remember it is there for support, so please abstain from insensitive comments. The board is actively monitored (moderated), and any abusive or misleading postings will be edited, erased or, as a last resort, the poster can be barred.

the promotion and provision of local support groups

Occasional informal ad-hoc socials take place; these are organised by past participants of our weekend workshops, and attendance is restricted to past participants of those workshops.

the provision of desensitisation workshops

As you read more about this condition, you will discover that treatment is based on standard techniques of cognitive behaviour therapy; to improve self-esteem and to realign your view of reality.

We address these at intensive residential weekend workshops. Note that no-one is cured in a weekend, but the majority make a significant start to gaining control over the condition, enabling them to see a way forward. The workshops are based on those run by Dr Soifer (the President of the International Paruresis Association, based in the USA), and are described in his book, Shy Bladder Syndrome. It is important to note that the UKPT does not provide professional treatment; instead it uses a self-help ethos, where the leaders are not medically or psychologically qualified, but are recovering from the condition themselves. They are imparting what they have learnt in a layman's capacity. Feedback so far is that this approach is helpful to participants. However it is not the aim of the UKPT to be a replacement for professional therapy; instead it is providing support, especially where professional resources are not available.

the promotion of the concept of individual privacy in the design of public toilets

We feel strongly that if public toilets were designed to give more privacy, we would find it less difficult to cope. Hence the charity aims to bring our views of privacy to the notice of architects and sanitary ware manufacturers. Privacy covers things like providing substantial dividers between urinals so as to create a sense of personal space, and to provide line of sight privacy; the desire to significantly reduce or eliminate the gaps between floor and walls of cubicles; and the need for substantial locks on the same; the need to design the layout of men's WC to reduce the feeling of being overlooked by mirrors etc; providing enough women's cubicle to eliminate queuing, and the time pressure that goes with it. If you want more info on this contact us by or post.

the promotion of research into all aspects of the condition, particularly its cause and treatment

The only book written specifically about this condition is Shy Bladder Syndrome by Steven Soifer et al. However there is little research done so far on the causes, nor on the efficacy of treatments. The charity will actively support any focused research in this area.

the raising of public awareness, including that of the medical profession

Time and again individuals contacting us say they thought they were the only person in the world labouring under the burden of this condition. We would like it to be better known and so have been interviewed both on the radio and TV; in the latter case on the Richard & Judy show in June 2002. We have a growing number of people who are willing to be public about this condition and so will continue to seek media exposure, so as to make contact with more sufferers.

Anecdotal evidence shows that it is a lottery as to whether one's GP, urologist or psychologist have heard of AP, and knows how to treat it. We wish to help the medical profession gain a fuller understanding of this condition and so welcome contact from them.

how can I support the UKPT?

Click here for details of how to make donation. If you do wish to become more actively involved in the Trust, contact us on .

warning & disclaimer

This website is not a substitute for medical advice and does not constitute the practice of medicine, psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work or any other mental health profession. If you are having trouble urinating, you should always contact a G.P. because difficulty with voiding can be a symptom of a serious physical medical condition.

We are a group of people who have suffered with avoidant paruresis. We have organised ourselves into a self-help organisation to help people cope with urinary dysfunction that has a psychological or social origin. On this website, we are not practising medicine, psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work or any other mental health profession.

You should have your doctor evaluate your condition before diagnosing yourself, and seek the appropriate necessary mental health counselling if warranted. The UKPT disclaims all legal liability whatsoever.

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