Month: August 2021

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is a common mental health condition that is a fear of being watched or judged by others in a social setting. Social anxiety can affect many aspects of your life, including work, school, and relationships. While social anxiety can be challenging to live with, it doesn’t have to keep you from living your life, and treatment can help you overcome the symptoms.

What does Social Anxiety Look Like?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition) (DSM-5), the criteria for anxiety disorder include:

  • Persistent, intense fear or anxiety about specific social situations because you believe you may be judged, embarrassed, or humiliated
  • Avoidance of anxiety-producing social situations or enduring them with intense fear or anxiety
  • Excessive anxiety that’s out of proportion to the situation
  • Anxiety or distress that interferes with your daily living
  • Fear or anxiety that is not better explained by a medical condition, medication or substance abuse

A person struggling with social anxiety disorder may feel symptoms of anxiety or fear in certain social situations such as meeting new people, dating, job interviews, public speaking, or ordering food at a restaurant. Additionally, doing things in a social setting like eating in front of people or using a public restroom can also trigger this fear or anxiety in individuals. Typically, people struggling with a social anxiety disorder are worried that they may be judged, rejected, or even humiliated by people.

Anxiety within social situations is so intense that many people feel unable to control their feelings or emotions. This perceived inability to control their anxiety can potentially affect their performance in school, work, or social situations, which can lead to the person avoiding these types of situations altogether.

When does Social Anxiety Start?

Social anxiety disorders usually develop during youth in people that are often described as ‘extremely shy.’ Social Anxiety disorder is relatively common, and research suggests that around 7% of individuals within the United States are affected by this to some degree.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety or fear within social situations can look different for everyone struggling with Social Anxiety Disorder. Typically, when having to perform in front of others or be around others in a social situation, people with anxiety disorders can:

  • Blush, sweat, or tremble
  • Have an increased heart rate
  • Feel dizzy
  • Make less eye contact
  • Speak quietly
  • Feel nauseous or lightheaded
  • Be very afraid of judgment from other people
  • Have a hard time talking to people, especially people they don’t know, even though they wish it would be easier
  • Feel self-conscious in front of other people
  • Avoid or stay away from places where there are other people
  • Isolate themselves from others
  • Feel embarrassed or awkward around other people

How is Social Anxiety Disorder Treated?

The first step when treating social anxiety is to talk to a health care professional about the symptoms that you are experiencing. Your doctor can help rule out any unrelated physical health problems and point you in the right direction of beneficial treatment. This typically results in a referral to a mental health specialist such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or clinical counselor who can properly diagnose a mental health disorder to understand better what treatment is needed.

Forms of psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial for treating social anxiety disorders. For instance, this type of psychotherapy helps teach you different ways of thinking, behaving, or reacting to situations to decrease the distress caused by anxiety or fear within social situations.

Group therapy can also be a beneficial component to treating social anxiety disorders. Support groups can help individuals get more perspective on their anxiety and learn how their thoughts about what will happen when around others aren’t necessarily true.

Medication is also another thing to consider when treating social anxiety disorders. While psychotherapy and group therapy is an effective form of treatment, sometimes medication is helpful. Your doctor will work with you to find the best medication for your specific need. However, most people who are prescribed medication obtain the best results when also doing psychotherapy in conjunction with their medication.

Tips on getting the most out of therapy

Find the Right Therapist for You

Find a therapist that is a good fit for you and your needs. To set yourself up for the best therapy possible, take time to understand what you need and want out of the process.


Depending on why you’re coming to therapy, some therapists are specialized to help with specific problems. Searching for certifications that therapists have may be a helpful way to start your search.




For instance, some therapists have special certifications in:

  • Couples and Marriage Counseling
  • Family Counseling
  • Grief Therapy
  • Trauma Therapy
  • Addiction and Alcohol Counseling
  • Divorce counseling
  • Sex Therapy

Once you find a therapist you may be interested in, set up a phone call to get more information on the therapy process since every office is different.


Unless there are any significant problems from your initial conversation, give yourself at least three sessions before deciding it’s going to work or not. This will give you time to understand what kind of therapy the therapist practices and if the therapist is a good fit for you and your overall needs.


Handle the Business side of therapy first


When sitting in the actual session, you don’t want things like out-of-pocket fees or other paperwork to take your attention away from the actual session.


Before beginning your first appointment, arrive a few minutes early to get all of the paperwork, fees, and insurance aspects of therapy out of the way. That way, you can place your full attention when you’re in session and all of the vital work that goes on during your time with your therapist.


View it as a Collaboration


Very rarely will a therapist run the whole session. Your journey to wellness is a team effort. While the therapist may help guide you, it is ultimately your responsibility to find your conclusions and move towards progress in your life.


Schedule Sessions at a Time that Works for You


Being valuable and working towards mental wellness can be exhausting. Because of this, schedule therapy appointments when you have enough time to be present with your therapist without having to rush away into a stressful environment right after a session.

Talk about Therapy in Therapy


Since therapy usually takes a collaborative approach, it might be beneficial to express your feelings about treatment to your therapist. Strong emotions typically surface throughout the therapeutic process and acknowledging them head-on with your therapist may provide a space for reflection and processing that will increase the benefits that therapy can have.


Do Work Outside of Session


Therapy is usually only 50-60 minutes of your week, a small drop in the bucket compared to the rest of your week. Implementing the tools learned in therapy within your daily life is one of the best ways to see personal growth over time.


If you’re unsure about how to start executing what you learn in therapy into your life, ask your therapist. They can help you develop plans, goals, and objectives to keep the therapeutic process going outside of the session.


Set Boundaries around Therapy


Therapy is a safe space that allows you to explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. However, it’s important to remind yourself that this space is your own, and it’s ok to have limits as to what you disclose to those around you about therapy.


Friends and family that care about you may ask you what you talked about, how it went, or why you’re in therapy in the first place. While it may be coming from a good place, it’s perfectly acceptable (and healthy) not to divulge what happens in therapy if you’re not comfortable.


Bring it All into Sessions


Bring all different parts of your personality into your session. Therapy is often a space that you talk about complicated feelings, emotions, and thoughts. Being able to express yourself fully without censoring yourself can help the session be more productive while helping you better understand who you are as a person.


Trust the Process


As cliche as this sounds, trusting thetherapy process is an integral part of having a positive therapeutic experience. Therapists benefit from going to school, reading countless books, studies, and articles surrounding therapy (which is a good thing!), but sometimes the process can be a little difficult to follow when you’re the client.


If you’re wondering about the process, the progress you’re making, or have questions about therapy in general, we encourage you to bring that up to your therapist. It’s ok to ask any questions you have during sessions, leading to a more effective therapeutic process.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is a common mental health condition that is a fear of being watched or judged by others in a social setting. …

Tips on getting the most out of therapy

Find the Right Therapist for You Find a therapist that is a good fit for you and your needs. To set yourself up for the best …

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy   Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common type of therapy (psychotherapy) used to …