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Specialized Therapy in Atlanta for Social Anxiety

What is social anxiety?

Most of us experience some social anxiety, worrying if we'll be exposed to scrutiny, judgement, embarrassment, criticism, or rejection. We may worry when interacting with others at meetings, in classes, or on the phone; dealing with authority figures (e.g., bosses, teachers); attending social gatherings; or performing (e.g., giving a speech or playing sports).

It's natural to have these worries, as we depend on other people for our well-being and survival and need to think about how we're relating to them. Yet for some us, social anxiety can become excessive and unhelpful - and it may reach the point where meet criteria for Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

 

SAD - sometimes called social phobia - is a mental health disorder that affects over 12% of Americans at some point in their lives. It's one of the most common mental health disorders and can severely impact a person's quality of life and functioning, as well as put them at risk of depression and substance abuse.

For most people with social anxiety, it does not go away on its own. However, Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an empirically-supported treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder, and most patients who participate in CBT benefit from treatment - and these benefits often endure after therapy ends.

CBT, ACT, & Exposure Therapy in Atlanta for Social Anxiety

Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT), including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and exposure therapy, provides useful tools to overcome social anxiety. For example:

  • Teaching externally-focused mindfulness (i.e., focus on sights, sounds and less on thoughts, feelings) and other strategies for stepping back from attention-grabbing thoughts and feelings, so you can focus on participating in your life and social interactions and not on internal stuff.

  • Considering alternative possibilities and interpretations. For example, learning to consider that a conversation went well if you tend to assume the worst - and learning to notice the evidence that supports the alternative interpretation.

  • Approaching instead of avoiding anxiety-provoking situations. This will allow you to learn that your fears are less likely to come true and that you can handle them when they do come true. Moreover, this is how you begin to reclaim your life from SAD - improving how you show up at school/work, as well as in your relationships.

Image by Miguel Bruna

Resources for Social Anxiety

Here's a YouTube video where a psychologist explains how the principles of exposure therapy helped him overcome social anxiety.

The National Social Anxiety Center provides helpful information about Social Anxiety, including a questionnaire that can help assess your level of social anxiety symptoms. They also have a list of providers.

 

Psychology Today provides a searchable directory of therapists, and you can filter your results for therapists who provide exposure (and response prevention) therapy.

 

I'd be happy to speak with you, too, as I provide evidence-based therapy for anxiety disorders - including social anxiety.

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