Looking for Social Anxiety Treatment?

We offer cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety, in Orlando and Online, with trained CBT therapists.

Do you get so caught up in worrying about how you come off in social situations that you can’t actually enjoy them? We have all felt a bit nervous at a party, a little awkward when meeting a new group of people, or anxious to make a good impression at a meeting or on a date, but social anxiety goes above and beyond ordinary nervousness. With social anxiety, unlike normal nervousness in social situations, the feelings don’t seem to get better and often seem to only get worse over time. It can lead you to dread facing social situations, knowing you’re going to be anxious and miserable the whole time until you can make your exit. Most importantly, with social anxiety you can become so focused on thoughts about how others might be judging you or worried that people will notice your physical symptoms that it can actually hinder your ability to participate fully in social situations. In other words, you get so worried about your performance in social situations that it actually makes you perform worse! If your social anxiety is impacting your relationships, your performance at work or school, or your ability to maintain daily life, it’s likely time to talk to a mental health professional about it and take action.

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Explore your previous experiences with harsh judgment and beliefs which have contributed to your habit of hyper-focusing on what others think of you
  • Learn to identify the thinking patterns that feed into your anxiety, driving it up in social situations
  • Learn to challenge your thinking patterns to develop more realistic social expectations of yourself
  • Decrease your anxiety related to specific types of social situations that you struggle with
  • Learn techniques to help train your body AND your mind to stop labeling social situations as a threat in order to stop feeding into your physical symptoms

Not Sure If Your Social Anxiety Warrants Therapy?

If you are experiencing a level of social anxiety that feels like its getting in the way of the kinds of relationships and social life you’d like to have, we can help. We offer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for individuals looking to break the pattern of social anxiety with evidence-based techniques. CBT focuses on specific tools to interrupt the cycle of hyper focusing on what other’s think, allowing you to spend more time actually engaged with the people around you! 

10 Signs It May Be Time To Get Help for Your Social Anxiety

10 Signs It May Be Time To Get Help for Your Social Anxiety

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How CBT Therapy Can Help with Your Social Anxiety

How CBT Therapy Can Help with Your Social Anxiety

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What Causes Social Anxiety and Why It Matters

What Causes Social Anxiety and Why It Matters

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10 Signs It May Be Time To Get Help for Your Social Anxiety

10 Signs It May Be Time To Get Help for Your Social Anxiety

There are many social situations in which it is perfectly normal to feel nervous and even for that nervousness to get a bit distracting. Meeting new groups of people, speaking up in a meeting, going out on a first date, or meeting your partner’s family for the first time are all classic examples. We are social beings by nature, so naturally we hope people will like us and that we’ll make a good impression. This is just part of being human and doesn’t typically warrant any type of therapy. Below are a few signs that may help you to determine if what you’re experiencing is above and beyond this level, in which case treatment can be helpful!

  1. If your nervousness around people keeps you from doing things you would like to do or you actually long to have a good social life but doubt your ability to make it happen because of your social anxiety
  2. If your current job is based around your social anxiety – either you stay in the same job so you don’t have to deal with meeting new people or you’ve avoided looking for jobs because you’re afraid of interacting with potential employers and going through interviews
  3. If your current single status is based around your social anxiety – either you’re worried you’d make a fool of yourself if you went out on a date or you dread the embarrassment of what would happen if you asked someone out… so you never ask
  4. If you tend to turn down social invites knowing you would only feel anxious if you went or you tend to feel relieved when social plans get cancelled because you’ve been dreading going ever since the plans were made
  5. If you dread being the center of attention or doing any type of task whether others would be observing you, for fear that you would embarrass yourself
  6. If you dread making small talk such as with cashiers, classmates, neighbors, or on planes and rely on your phone or other methods to intentionally keep others from speaking with you
  7. If you keep everyone at arms length because you worry others wouldn’t like you if they really got to know you or struggle with expressing your opinion, making requests, or speaking up for yourself for fear of what others might think
  8. If others often comment about how shy, unapproachable, or quiet you are or how you think too much about what other people think of you
  9. If you get caught up worrying about others noticing signs that you’re nervous such as sweating or blushing
  10. If you get so nervous it affects your speech

For more information on how CBT for social anxiety can teach you concrete techniques for handling the mental, emotional, and physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder – please reach out.

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How CBT Therapy Can Help with Your Social Anxiety

How CBT Therapy Can Help with Your Social Anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the top recommended treatments for social anxiety. This is because CBT therapy targets the key elements of social anxiety that keep you stuck in the cycle.

  1. Your anxious thought spiral that kicks off the whole system. This can include thoughts like “I’m going to look so stupid. Everyone will think I don’t belong there. I’m going to say something dumb or get tripped up on my words and embarrass myself.”
  2. Your physical symptoms that only seem to escalate. This can include things like blushing, sweating, feeling dizzy or jittery, ringing in your ears, a tightness in your chest, upset stomach, and many others.
  3. And your behaviors that keep the cycle going… and getting worse. This most commonly includes avoidance (such as avoiding making plans) and safety behaviors. Safety behaviors are anything you use to help you endure anxious situations such as avoiding eye contact by playing on your phone the whole time, busying yourself with cleaning up instead of chatting with people at the table after a meal, or using straws to avoid lifting your glass with a shaky hand to keep people from seeing that you’re nervous.

So how does it work exactly? CBT for social anxiety uses two main approaches to target these areas of social anxiety: cognitive skills and behavioral “retraining.”

Because thoughts play such an important part in social anxiety, we work with clients to help you master the skills of changing your thinking habits. This often begins with identifying what types of thoughts most feed into your social anxiety. Once we have an idea what types of thinking habits you’ve developed, we can teach you how to examine your thoughts to come up with more realistic, helpful thoughts. This is NOT the same thing as getting rid of a bad thought and replacing it with a good thought. On the contrary, it’s important for thoughts to be realistic and believable, otherwise they’ll do you no good. For this reason, we teach clients to examine their thoughts using factual evidence instead of assumptions, to set more realistic goals and expectations of themselves, and tools to help cope through anxious moments. Research has shown that the more realistic your thoughts are and the less dangerously you perceive social situations, the less physical symptoms you will experience. Additionally, the less you hyper focus on unrealistically negative thoughts and assumptions, the more you can actually focus on the situation at hand, which tends to improve your ability to function in all types of social situations.

The other main component of CBT is based around behavioral skills… in other words – actual practice. Research has shown that we can reduce anxiety by slowly facing the types of situations that make us anxious and practicing coping through them, rather than avoiding them. In this way, clients get a chance to learn practical steps for how to respond to their anxiety IN the situation. This always starts off easy and builds on your successes as you go, facing tougher situations once you’ve built some confidence in your skills. The real purpose of this approach is to give your body the opportunity to learn through experience, rather than just “in theory,” that you can in fact handle social situations. Over time, this can go a long way toward reducing your social anxiety as your body learns that social situations aren’t actually as dangerous as you once believed them to be.

Looking for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Online?

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What Causes Social Anxiety and Why It Matters

What Causes Social Anxiety and Why It Matters

Researchers agree that like most types of anxiety, social anxiety is the result of a combination of multiple factors that all come together to increase (or decrease) the odds of developing social anxiety.

The three main factors that seem to play a role in social anxiety include:

  1. Genetics. Research (mostly twin studies) has shown that there is likely a genetic component for most people who develop social anxiety. Studies have also shown that some people are genetically predisposed to be uncomfortable when exposed to anything unfamiliar (including people, situations, and places). As you can imagine, this can give certain people the natural desire to stick with things that are known and familiar to them. As with all genetic predispositions, however, our genes are not our destiny in the same way that flour is not a cake – it must be changed and molded in certain ways which leads us to the other two main factors: family environment and experiences.
  2. Family Environment. Early family environment seems to play a significant role in the likelihood of developing social anxiety. This is because, to a large extent, the people in our home make up the bulk of our social interactions in the first 10 years of life. For this reason, it is in our family environment that we learn the social lessons that can form the basis for social anxiety (or not). These include: our sense of trust in others, whether others perceive us as valuable and likable, and our sense of power or inequality among others. For example, family comments about a child’s speech, behavior, and appearance can play a big role in feeling self-conscious. Additionally, we can also be significantly affected by family values around “keeping up appearances” and messages that we should be worried about what others think of us. Lastly, any experiences of abuse or simply spending much of your time alone as a child can plan a big role in developing social anxiety.
  3. Significant Experiences. Many of our clients report that other significant experiences triggered the start of their social anxiety. Commonly, this starts around middle school or high school, the age at which feeling “different” in any way can be devastating socially. Other examples might include starting a program in which you feel your peers all come from wealthier backgrounds, having a panic attack in a social situation, or being publicly intentionally shamed in some way.

We’re here to help.

If you or someone you know is struggling due to anxiety, depression, or trauma – and would like to know more about CBT or how to get started, please reach out. We offer cognitive behavioral therapy for depression, in Orlando and online, with trained CBT therapists.

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