Seeking Psychotherapy When You Have Social Phobia
Someone with social phobia has developed an intense fear of social situations and interactions. With such a fear, an individual can become incredibly self-conscious and strongly aware that they’re being judged and criticized by others.
The feelings that come with social phobia can result in weariness with the public, anxiety with gatherings, as well as an overall depression since many individuals with social phobia tend to want to be alone to avoid social interaction. In fact, when faced with a choice of going out or staying in, preferring to be alone is a major symptom of social phobia.
Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, has been discovered to be the third largest psychological disorder in the United States. However, studies have found that this disorder also includes specific fears, such as speaking in front of groups.
Symptoms of Generalized Social Anxiety or Social Phobia
Those with generalized social phobia tend to become extremely and sometimes irrationally distressed when under certain social situations such as when:
- being introduced to others
- being at the center of attention
- being teased
- meeting strangers
- going to parties or other social events
Physiological symptoms can include an erratic heart rate, blushing, a dry throat or mouth, trembling, difficulty swallowing, muscle spasms, and excessive sweating. The most obvious symptom, however, is anxiety or panic.
How does someone with social phobia strike up the nerve to speak with a therapist? They would have to find a therapist they feel comfortable with, a professional who can help them feel at ease the moment they walk into the room. Helping a person feel comfortable includes listening closely, exhibiting a warm acceptance, and responding with understanding and support.
In fact, in therapy a person with social phobia can experience what it’s like to be accepted, heard, and understood by another. They can experience what it’s like to have a therapeutic relationship with another human being. These are very different than the experiences that someone with social phobia is fearing when in public – rejection, shame, embarrassment, humiliation. Therapeutic experiences can help a person feel more confident in social situations. Of course, a therapist can also provide coping tools, relaxation techniques, and tips for watching and replacing negative thoughts, which can trigger anxiety.
There are a handful of modalities that a therapist may use with someone with social phobia, depending upon a person’s needs and circumstances. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, depth psychological techniques, group therapy, and more.
Like speaking with a therapist one-on-one, group therapy can also be helpful. This therapeutic technique is facilitated by a therapist and is attended by many people who have a similar condition – in this case, social phobia. Group therapy can be incredibly supportive because other attendees may share their anecdotes of social distress, success stories, and suggestions for overcoming their symptoms. For instance, one common tip for those with social anxiety is to surround yourself with people that you are comfortable with, including family, friends, and those who are like-minded. Feeling more and more at ease with others can slowly help one overcome their social anxiety and phobias.
Written by Marie Miguel
Marie Miguel is an avid internet researcher. She is fueled by her determination to answer the many questions she hasn’t been able to find the answer to anywhere else. When she finds these answers she likes to spread the knowledge to others who are seeking help. She is always looking for outlets to share her information, therefore she occasionally has her content published on different websites and blogs.