Socializing Without Anxiety
“I’m a lonely person at heart, I need people, but my social anxiety prevents me from being happy.” – Anon
Are you overwhelmed with anxiety or nervousness in social situations?
Do you fear being negatively judged or criticized by others?
Are you overly worried about making mistakes or feeling embarrassed in front of others?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be struggling with Social Anxiety Disorder. It is normal to occasionally feel some nervousness in social situations. However, people experiencing Social Anxiety Disorder tend to avoid everyday interactions due to negative thoughts and feelings they have about themselves (self-consciousness and embarrassment) and fear of being scrutinized and rejected by others who they believe have the same negative thoughts and feelings about them.
People with Social Anxiety Disorder may feel significant distress in the following situations:
- Being teased or criticized
- Being the center of attention
- Being watched while completing a task
- Speaking in formal or public settings
- Meeting people in authority
- Feeling insecure in social situations
- Feeling embarrassed easily
- Making eye-contact with other people
Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder can significantly affect our social interactions, however, it is very treatable. Learning coping skills in counseling can help you gain the self-confidence you need to improve your ability to interact with others. Specific therapies scientifically proven to help treat Social Anxiety Disorder include the following:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a behavioral counseling approach that encourages you to accept your negative thoughts and emotions as a part of life and to choose and commit to healthy and productive activities meaningful to you. By accepting what you can not control and focusing on what you can (your actions), you stop engaging in thoughts and behaviors that actually cause and worsen anxiety. You develop greater mental flexibility, reduce social shame, improve self-compassion and confidence, and experience greater social satisfaction. Strategies used in ACT for Social Anxiety Disorder include cognitive diffusion, acceptance of what is, mindfulness/being present, self-observation, holding to values, and commitment to action.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), one of the most effective treatments for Social Anxiety Disorder, addresses how your thoughts, feelings, and actions interact to create and reinforce anxiety. You learn to identify and change the catastrophic thoughts that social failure and rejection is likely and the avoidant behavior that drives social anxiety. CBT interventions for Social Anxiety Disorder may include the following: education on anxiety; challenging negative thoughts; relaxation skills training; exposure therapy/systematic desensitization; and assertiveness skills training.
Mindfulness Therapy, also called Mindfulness-based Therapy, is an approach to counseling that can be used alone or with other therapies to treat Social Anxiety Disorder. It is, in fact, a major component of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and often incorporated in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Mindfulness is a method of becoming more present, more aware of yourself and your environment in the moment, and more accepting. Becoming more aware and accepting of your thoughts, emotions, and physical experiences rather than fighting promotes self-compassion and overall mental health.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is one of the most successful and widely used treatments for anxiety disorders. It is a strength-based, goal-directed, and present and future-oriented approach. Through SFBT, you focus on your goals, clearly identifying what you want to be different. You then explore exceptions (when social anxiety is not a problem) and existing strengths and resources (ways you cope), identify possible solutions, and find a path forward to accomplishing your goals one doable step at a time in the present. By envisioning what you want in your interactions with others, rather than what you do not want, and by moving slowly toward your goal, you may experience greater success and soon feel more comfortable and confident in social situations.
If you live in Florida and think you may be suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder, contact me today to further discuss your options for counseling and start your recovery from social anxiety.
Moving forward, we’ll meet via a convenient and confidential tele-mental health platform. Please see additional information about my telehealth and online services at Telehealth in Florida: Online Therapy for Florida Residents with Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and (Dis)Ability-related Issues