When we feel self-confident in social situations, we can make the most out of enjoyable encounters and hold the ability to manage challenging ones, effectively.
If you struggle with social anxiety or social phobia, any social situation good or challenging, can become a psychological and physiological nightmare, evoking high levels of anxiety and distress. In an attempt to cope, many people begin avoiding social situations and become increasingly self-critical, unhappy and lonely.
With the right tools, you can stop social anxiety disorder from ruining your life. Cognitive behavioural Therapy is shown to be particularly effective in the treatment of Social Anxiety and Social Phobia.
Social Anxiety, also known as social phobia, is a condition, which makes people fear social situations. The level of fear can range from extremely anxious to completely overwhelming. To cope with it, many people try to avoid social situations and at times, even thinking about a social situation can bring on distressing anxiety. A fear of being judged, embarrassed or compared to others in a belittling manner is at the centre of this disorder. Many people can recognise that their fears are not wholly rational, however, they still feel powerless in their ability to stop the anxiety.
CBT is a specialised therapy that focuses on helping people understand how specific patterns of thoughts, behaviours and feelings arise in response to social situations. You will discover how certain thinking or behaviour patterns you maintain, may be flawed and thus contribute to your social anxiety symptoms. You will also learn how these patterns can be changed to build positive feelings and the self-confidence to deal with the social situations you find difficult.
A CBT therapist will help you learn to recognise how particular elements of the thoughts and behaviours you maintain, actually feed your social anxiety. You may already be aware or completely unaware of these problematic patterns. A CBT therapist can help you gain the clarity to assess where useful changes can be made. They will work collaboratively with you to devise, a series of exercises and experiments that can help you begin to develop the skills you need to manage and cope with social situations much more effectively.
Exercises may take the form of written homework, for instance, some exercises can help you practice new ways of viewing previously stressful situations. For example, you may gain a more positive or realistic perspective on how others might view you. Experiments are also a common element of CBT therapy and these would be devised collaboratively with your CBT therapist. For example, you might want to test an experiment that involves engaging in a new strategy in a social situation to see what difference it makes. This aim is always to focus on testing strategies that will ultimately make you feel more comfortable and at ease.
After a course of good CBT therapy, many people will feel more confident in dealing with social situations.
In most cases CBT can help many people feel more socially confident and at ease, however, there are times when CBT alone may not be enough to help you make the lasting changes you want. Sometimes adding another therapy to the treatment approach can really make a difference. At other times, some people find medication takes the edge of overwhelming, intense anxiety, thus enabling them to engage more easily in therapy and make positive changes.
The primary focus in CBT is the here and now situations, which trigger your social anxiety. It does not explore the roots of where your social anxiety may have originated. Whilst many people can feel better and more able to cope for quite a while and even completely, following a course of CBT, some people find symptoms return or the social anxiety simply shifts to a different situation. In such instances, other psychotherapies, which also identify and address the root cause of your social anxiety, may help you to achieve a more lasting outcome.
At KlearMinds we always take an integrated psychotherapy approach to treating social anxiety because we believe, if you address both the roots and the here and now triggers, your chances of lasting success and not needing further therapy in the future, are better.
You can learn more about the range of psychotherapy approaches we use to help people by clicking: psychotherapy at KlearMinds.
Whilst medication doesn’t cure social anxiety it can often alleviate some of the intense anxiety. Symptoms tend to return when medication is stopped, however, in combination with psychotherapy and/or CBT treatment, it can positively assist your progress when anxiety symptoms are particularly severe.