Social Anxiety Therapy
Social anxiety or social phobia is an anxiety disorder in relation to social situations. Social anxiety usually develops during an individual’s teens. It is more than being shy and it can result in severe levels in anxiety. People with social anxiety worry about upcoming social situations and after the social situation, ruminate about what they might have said or done wrong. People with social anxiety have a fear that when they enter into a social situation, they will either make a fool of themselves that will result in criticism from others or that their physical symptoms of anxiety will show, that will also result in negative evaluation from others. So, when an individual with social anxiety goes into a social situation, their symptoms of anxiety become triggered. This can result in the individual focusing their attention on these symptoms and this result in them becoming more severe. Common symptoms of social anxiety are:
- Anxiety around meeting new people, starting conversations, speaking on the phone or asking for things.
- Avoiding or worrying about social situations
- Worrying that when in a social situation you might so something embarrassing such as blush, sweat or say the wrong thing that will result in negative judgement from others
- Fear of criticism
- Avoiding eye contact
When treating social anxiety, we create a hierarchy of feared social situations and rank them from least to most feared. We then design a Behavioural Experiment to expose the individual to the situation and to test if their anxious prediction comes true. The individual will then have a lot of evidence to support that their anxious prediction does not come true. Focus of attention is also done in order to train the individual to focus outward and not inward on their physical symptoms, resulting in a reduction of anxious symptoms.