What is Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)?
Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by fear and anxiety about one or more social situations in which one could be judged negatively by others. Common social situations that elicit this fear include conversations, meeting new people, being the center of attention, and having to perform in front of others (e.g. class or work presentations). Individuals with social anxiety worry that they will behave in a way that will lead to negative evaluation from others. This often includes the possibility that others will notice that they are anxious.
Common Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
- Avoiding social situations and interactions when possible
- Avoiding talking about one’s self
- Mind going blank during conversations
- Physical symptoms of panic when in social situations
- Avoidance of confrontation and direct communication
- Replaying conversations and interactions after they’ve already happened
- Assuming negative perceptions from others
- Thinking about oneself in negative, highly critical ways
Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment
We treat Social Anxiety Disorder using Exposure Therapy, which is the gold-standard treatment for this disorder. As with most forms of treatment, education about social anxiety and skill building are part of the treatment process. Social anxiety exposures involve approaching previously avoided social interactions and situations, such as engaging in conversations with new people, deepening self-disclosure, practicing assertive communication, performing in front of others, and attending social gatherings. This often starts in therapy by practicing specific conversational skills with one’s therapist and then transitions to interactions with peers and other individuals. Exposure and Response Prevention also entails learning and practicing confident behavior (even if you don’t feel confident!) both in social settings and when alone.
To learn more about what our treatment looks like, click here: What to Expect In Therapy