Managing Social Anxiety Using a Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Approach
Social anxiety is a psychological disorder that manifests as intense fear and dread of social situations. Individuals suffering from this condition often avoid these situations, leading to significant distress and negative emotions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an incredibly successful treatment option for social anxiety. It consists of various strategies designed to help individuals alter their negative thoughts and behaviors, helping them conquer their fears.
CBT for social anxiety typically entails repeated exposures to feared situations and relaxation exercises, which can be conducted by therapists or individuals with social anxiety on their own.
CBT therapists utilize the ABC model to teach patients how their emotions shape their actions and help them comprehend why these feelings arise in particular circumstances. With this insight, clients are equipped with skills that allow them to replace anxious thinking with more calming ideas and behaviors that are more helpful in social settings.
Self-monitoring of feelings and sensations is an integral part of treatment for socially anxious episodes. Individuals tend to focus on detailed internal information in order to infer how others view them; they may even experience vivid, distorted images from an observer’s point of view.
Another crucial aspect of CBT for social anxiety is systematic desensitization, or teaching people to associate feared situations with relaxation. This can be accomplished by providing patients with calming activities like grounding exercises or breathing techniques during sessions.
Exercising assertiveness and problem-solving abilities are essential components for treating social anxiety. These strategies help individuals combat their negative self-view and avoidance of social situations by giving them the courage to speak up when necessary, make decisions for their own wellbeing, and take responsibility for their own well-being.
Setting goals is another essential element of treatment for social anxiety patients. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-specific) goals provide valuable feedback about progress so patients with social anxiety can track progress and see how their objectives are being met. For instance, someone who struggles in large group meetings at work might set a SMART goal to practice speaking up on one topic they are an expert on for 30 minutes each time.
This goal is measurable and achievable, as they can plan ahead of time. Furthermore, it’s realistic and time-specific as they only need to present once and have access to resources at their office in order to do so.
Abby can benefit from relaxation exercises during her therapy sessions with a therapist experienced in social anxiety. She can learn to breathe deeply through her nose and hold it for 5 seconds, which will relax both body and mind. This will enable Abby to de-stress before confronting fearful social situations and reduce her overall fear.
Finding a therapist for CBT therapy can be challenging as it is not covered by all insurance plans. A great idea is to ask your primary care doctor for a referral to an area therapist who specializes in treating social anxiety.