Is Social Anxiety Shrinking Your World?
Does the possibility of social interaction and being the center of attention keep you from doing daily activities? Are you constantly worried about choosing just the right words and making perfect eye contact or avoiding eye contact altogether?
Social anxiety can appear in many kinds of social interaction. Maybe you’re afraid of saying or doing something embarrassing while making small talk with acquaintances, speaking to store clerks, or going to parties. Or perhaps your anxiety is more specific and tends to show up when you’re faced with performing in front of others, such as acting in a theater production or giving a presentation at school or work.
Social Anxiety Can Lead To Isolation
As a result of your social anxiety, maybe you always seem to find a flaw in the way you interact with people and think about it over and over again until the next social mistake takes its place in your mind. And because your mind is constantly in problem-solving mode and tries to do things to make you feel “safer,” you may even have begun to completely avoid social situations.
If you relate to some of these thoughts and feelings, you might be experiencing social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia. Looking for treatment to help you manage your social anxiety is the best first step you can make.
Many Adults Struggle With Social Anxiety
It’s true that anxiety comes and goes for everyone, including anxiety about social interaction or performing in front of others. This anxiety can at times help to motivate us to behave in socially appropriate ways and encourage us to put our best foot forward. However, many times, these thoughts and fears are unhelpful and leave us feeling like we are missing out and constantly being held back.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 12.1% of US adults experience social anxiety at some point in time, with the rate of females being slightly higher than that of males.*
Social anxiety goes from being a helpful motivator to a very unhelpful disorder when it comes up almost every time we are in a social situation and is so intense that it gets in the way of our normal functioning. But removing ourselves from social situations only reinforces and grows our anxiety.
Regardless of what your social anxiety looks like, or even if anxiety tells you that “it is just because you are an introvert,” with treatment and support, change is possible. Decades of research have shown that therapy is effective, both for general social anxiety and performance-specific types, allowing you to take back control and rejoin life.
Counseling Can Help You Interact With Social Anxiety In A New Way
Treatment can help you get back to enjoying your life without constant anxiety about everything you say and do. The OCD & Anxiety Center specializes in treating SAD using evidence-based methods so that you can be confident the time and effort you invest will pay off.
Whether you remember a time before social anxiety was a part of your life or you’re looking to free yourself from it for the first time, reaching out for help is a huge step toward recovery and takes so much bravery. We’re so happy you’re considering therapy, and we’re ready to walk with you on this journey.
What To Expect From Social Phobia Counseling
During each therapy session, we will invite you to share your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Our therapists provide a welcoming space for clients of all genders, cultural backgrounds, religions, and spiritualities. This supportive environment lays the groundwork for learning new ways of responding to anxiety.
Discovering and learning to implement new responses involves education, reframing thoughts, exposure, and practice. Your therapist will provide you with psycho-education about social phobia, how it functions, and what keeps it going. By applying this knowledge to your unique experience, your therapist will also assist you in creating a plan to respond to it in healthy ways that move you toward your goals.
Many times, the anxiety that you feel can cause you to avoid situations. This may remove that anxiety in the moment, but it only continues the perpetual cycle in the long run. While learning to face your anxiety might seem scary, your therapist will walk hand-in-hand with you, meeting you where you are and taking steps from there.
Social Anxiety Treatment Methods
At the OCD & Anxiety Center, we strive to provide evidence-based treatment modalities to support you and your loved ones. The most common modalities for social phobia are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy.
Through CBT, you will learn to identify unhelpful and destructive thought patterns that are continuing and reinforcing your social fears. With the help of your therapist, you will learn the connection between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. While you cannot stop certain thoughts, you can see how reframing them (or challenging their accuracy) can change your emotions and your behaviors. This will help you to be able to better face your fears.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) assists you with identifying how your thoughts, emotions, and fears oftentimes move you further away from your desired behaviors and values. Being able to examine your thoughts and behaviors in relation to your goals can help you to see the benefit of facing your fears, even if it feels difficult at the moment. ACT will also help you to see the difference between you and your thoughts, giving you more control over them.
By utilizing ERP therapy, another form of CBT, your therapist will assist you in creating a hierarchy of experiences related to social anxiety and gradually and repeatedly help you face these fears. With practice, you will see that you can do it and that the scary outcome is less likely to occur. For example, you may practice making eye contact, asking questions, or making small talk. You may be encouraged to practice these skills during appointments outside of the office.
Left untreated, the fears and worries accompanying social anxiety will typically grow and oftentimes become more and more difficult and debilitating. But, alongside your therapist, you can learn how to manage these fears in a healthier way.
Perhaps You Are Considering Anxiety Treatment Regarding Your Social Fears But Still Have Some Concerns…
Does online therapy work for social anxiety disorder? Is it as effective as in-person treatment?
Research supports that online social anxiety treatment is just as effective as in-person treatment. Many times, individuals will utilize virtual sessions as this can be more practical for them with their work or school schedule, removing the commute time.
Regardless of the platform, treatment will include practicing skills and facing fears. Virtual sessions can allow the client to go anywhere in the community where their fears are present while the therapist joins virtually through an audio or video call. If you have questions about whether one platform would be better for you, we would be happy to discuss this further with you during your intake.
Is online treatment private? How does it work?
Privacy and confidentiality are extremely important. We use platforms that are known to protect your privacy. You’ll want to do what you can to be sure the space from which you choose to join your therapy session is private and free from interruption/distraction.
Sometimes, your therapist may ask you to join the session from a public place in order to practice your skills. For these sessions, a pair of earbuds will be useful to ensure that only you can hear your therapist. This will protect your privacy and allow you to get the most realistic experience possible, without needing to hold a phone to your ear.
Will I have to do the things I’m anxious about to get better?
To answer this question simply: yes. However, you and your therapist will take a gradual approach.
After discussing your social anxiety in-depth, seeing the areas of impact, and identifying your goals, your therapist will assist you in making a list of situations that trigger anxiety. Ranking these items from least to most difficult, you will start with the easiest items, repeat them until they are mastered, and then move on to the next items. This is an extremely collaborative process and one that will, with time, help you to see that you can face your fears and that your anxiety will go down.
Your Can Take Your Life Back From Social Anxiety
If fear of judgment and criticism has prevented you from living the life you desire, treatment with a social anxiety therapist at The OCD & Anxiety Center can help open up your world. To address further concerns or schedule an appointment, please call us at (630) 522-3124 or email us at email@example.com.