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!
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!
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.
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.
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: