In repeated trials, sponsored by the National Institutes of Mental Health, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been confirmed as the most effective treatment for social anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps people deal with anxious situations. It involves understanding the problem and developing coping strategies such as changing thinking patterns in social situations and learning to focus attention on effective social behaviours.
CBT usually begins with a study of the disorder, examining the situations that provoke the anxiety and the accompanying somatic symptoms. This educational process sets the understanding for training in skills to alleviate and eventually conquer social anxiety. These skills include assertiveness training, relaxation techniques, diaphragmatic breathing, the cognitive restructuring of distorted and negative thinking that contributes to social anxiety, and behavioural experiments to test the catastrophic predictions a person makes about a possible social situation.
Recent research indicates that approximately 70% of people who complete a short term treatment program (10 to 15 sessions) are judged to be much or very much improved. The amount of improvement appears to be related to the amount of time and energy the person devotes to developing new coping strategies. If avoidance is extreme and generalised to many and varied situations, you may require more sessions.
John Dunlop specialises in the treatment of social anxiety, using techniques appropriate to the presenting symptoms. This depends what triggers the anxiety, whether the individual has panic attacks and the severity of the symptoms. Most often a combination of behavioural interventions is used with cognitive therapy. The behavioural treatment may include relaxation training, cognitive restructuring, surveys, assertiveness training, imaginal exposure and behavioural experiments (e.g. through video feedback ...).
Cognitive therapy helps you to develop cognitive blocking mechanisms when the anxiety begins to build, and also helps you understand why the social anxiety symptoms occur. This allows you to develop different ways of coping by changing the way you perceive the social situations triggering your anxiety.
If you think you are suffering from Social anxiety or Social phobia, do not delay the decision to address this limiting problem, make an appointment and start online therapy now.
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1994.
Hidalgo, R.B., Barnett, S.D., and Davidson, J.R.T. Social Anxiety Disorder in Review: Two Decades of Progress. Int J of Neuropsychopharm 2001, 4, 279-298.