Therapy for Social Anxiety

Social interactions are so pervasive in our lives, they're almost inescapable. Therapy can help you face situations with more calm and courage.

Dr. Parke is currently offering online teletherapy appointments

The Fear of What Is Everywhere

It may sound like an overstatement, but really--social interactions are everywhere. Whether they occur face-to-face, via phone or video call, in text messages, on social media, over e-mail... human beings are social beings, and we are wired for social connection with others. Recognizing this innate need for social connection and recognizing that it's everywhere across our lives also speaks to how painful, even tortuous, daily life can be for people who suffer from social anxiety.

The Roots and the Fruits

At its core, this specific type of anxiety involves fear of being judged or negatively evaluated by other people. It can involve intense fears about being embarrassed or humiliated in social interactions. Social anxiety can have such detrimental effects on our lives. The suffering in and of itself can sometimes feel unbearable. That alone is enough to drive people into seeking help. 

Social anxiety can yield many detrimental consequences in our lives as well. For example, you may notice that this specific type of anxiety suppresses your true potential--you can't truly "shine" at school or at work because social anxiety may mask your ability to write, speak, present, participate, perform, or otherwise express your full potential. You might also notice that social anxiety limits your relationships with friends, family members, or people in authority (like teachers) because you feel so intimidated about communicating with them or worry about how your communication will be perceived. Like most types of anxiety, social anxiety can involve a vicious anxiety-avoidance cycle where you avoid the situations you fear. In this case, you may avoid social situations such as spending time with friends, making phone calls, or participating in groups. You might avoid these situations entirely or try to "suffer through" them.

How Can Therapy Help?

Therapy can help by providing a safe and private space for you. Once someone feels comfortable in therapy with me, I gently walk them through the process of untangling the anxiety-avoidance cycle. I tend to use cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is the approach that current research suggests can be most helpful. Here are some steps involved:

  • Psychoeducation: learning about what social anxiety is and how it affects people
  • CBT triangle: understanding your own patterns of thoughts, feelings, and avoidance behavior
  • Cognitive restructuring: recognizing distorted thought patterns and modifying them to so that thoughts are more helpful and accurate
  • Gradual exposure: helping you face feared situations little by little so that you can gain social confidence
  • Social skills: helping you discover new ways of interacting with people or practicing how to say things

These steps all need to occur in a therapeutic process with someone you can trust. It's not an overnight cure, and the process takes time, but it's totally worth it to reach that light at the end of the tunnel! Imagine being able to interact with people in a way that's more calm and confident, enjoying getting to know people and allowing them to know you, without that extra interfering layer of social anxiety noise.

Some Next Steps

  • Check out my blog to learn more about anxiety in general and social anxiety, more specifically
  •  Contact me to inquire about therapy for social anxiety
Photo credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Dr. Parke is currently offering online teletherapy appointments

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