Social anxiety... The fear of embarrassing yourself, being judged, saying something "stupid."
You feel excessively self-conscious and worried about being negatively evaluated or judged by others in social situations.
You find yourself avoiding social situations such as meeting new people in your personal life or even social interactions at work. Over time, this avoidance stifles your development and functioning:
People at work seem to have found their “people” they have lunch breaks with and chit-chat about life updates with.
You observe people around you quickly forming close relationships and wonder what’s wrong with you and how you missed out.
You know you want to find a life partner, but the dread of awkward first dates and meeting new potential partners lead you to drag your feet in looking for these opportunities.
You wonder if you’ll ever be like other “normal” people.
You use avoidance as a coping mechanism to protect yourself from being negatively evaluated or judged. Still, the harsh truth is avoiding social situations can reinforce your anxiety and prevent you from learning that the situation may not be as threatening as you initially perceived.
Social anxiety stifles your personal development & inhibits your functioning, but it’s possible to take control of it through the process of therapy.
Our Approach to Treating Social Anxiety
In treatment for social anxiety, it is crucial to address both the roots of your social anxiety and how it developed, as well as learn to cope and manage symptoms of this anxiety so you can begin to progress in your social life, your career, and develop strong social support systems.
Somehow you have learned to be cautious around people.
Somehow you have learned that sharing your thoughts, feelings, or opinions is unsafe.
Somehow you have learned that people are judgmental or that they will disregard what you express.
Sometimes, social anxiety can come from past experiences of being judged, humiliated, or unvalued. Other times, the contributions can be more complex. So much of what we do and how we feel are shaped by what happens outside of our awareness and understanding what your social anxiety is about is the first step towards feeling better. This is what you and your therapist will address together. You don’t have to deal with this alone.
Here are some ways we might also address your anxiety:
𖥸 Identify patterns of thinking and feeling that reinforce the belief that social situations are unsafe
𖥸 Address underlying self-esteem issues that could contribute to social anxiety
𖥸 Develop the ability to distinguish between worries that are remnants of past experiences versus worries your intuition is sensing that could provide useful information about the current situation(s)
𖥸 Recognize the triggers that make you anxious, understand the internal themes that these situations evoke
𖥸 Learn coping skills to address social anxiety
𖥸 Develop communication skills to handle different social situations
𖥸 Address the issues, past and present, that your social anxiety stems from
Over time, by using a combined approach of addressing the roots of your social anxiety and providing various coping skills, your therapist will provide you with the tools to progress in your social life and career and develop strong social support systems.
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Social anxiety, also known as social anxiety disorder (SAD), is a mental health condition characterized by excessive fear, anxiety, and self-consciousness in social situations. Individuals with social anxiety may feel intensely anxious or afraid of being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated in social situations, even in situations that would not normally cause anxiety for others. Social anxiety can affect many aspects of a person’s life, including their work, school, relationships, and overall quality of life.
Social anxiety disorder is a treatable condition, and there are many effective treatments available, including psychotherapy and medication.
Social anxiety is a common mental health disorder that affects many people worldwide. YOU are not alone! According to the World Health Organization (WHO), social anxiety disorder is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders, affecting an estimated 3.8% of the global population.
In the United States, social anxiety disorder affects an estimated 7.1% of the population each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). It is more common in women than in men, and it typically develops in the teenage years or early adulthood.
Social anxiety can vary in severity and can affect individuals differently. Some individuals may experience mild symptoms of social anxiety, while others may experience more severe symptoms that significantly impact their daily life.
Social anxiety and shyness share some similarities and can be confused with each other, but they are not the same thing.
Shyness is a personality trait that involves feeling uncomfortable or hesitant in new or unfamiliar social situations. Shy individuals may feel self-conscious and prefer to avoid social interactions, but they do not necessarily experience intense fear or anxiety.
Social anxiety, on the other hand, involves excessive fear or anxiety in social situations. Individuals with social anxiety may experience intense fear of being judged or negatively evaluated by others in social situations, leading to avoidance or significant distress. Social anxiety is a clinical disorder that can have a significant impact on an individual’s daily life.
While shyness may be a normal personality trait for some individuals, social anxiety is a mental health disorder that requires professional treatment. A mental health professional can help individuals with social anxiety develop coping skills and strategies to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Social anxiety and introversion are two distinct concepts that are often confused with each other.
Introversion is a personality trait that is characterized by a preference for solitude and a tendency to focus on one’s inner thoughts and feelings. Introverts may enjoy spending time alone and may find social situations draining, but they do not necessarily experience intense fear or anxiety in social situations.
Social anxiety, however, involves excessive fear or anxiety in social situations, despite having a desire to connect and belong. Individuals with social anxiety may experience intense fear of being judged or negatively evaluated by others in social situations, leading to avoidance or significant distress.
While introverts may prefer to spend time alone or in small groups, individuals with social anxiety may avoid social situations altogether or experience significant distress when in social situations.
Social anxiety and introversion are not mutually exclusive. An individual may be both introverted and experience social anxiety, but it is also to be introverted without having social anxiety. Introversion is a personality trait, while social anxiety is a mental health disorder that requires professional treatment.
Social anxiety and self-esteem are closely related. People with social anxiety disorder may have low self-esteem as a result of their symptoms. However, low self-esteem can also lead to the development of social anxiety.
Social anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive fear or anxiety in social situations, leading to avoidance or significant distress. This fear of negative evaluation by others can cause individuals to have negative thoughts about themselves, leading to low self-esteem.
For example, people with social anxiety disorder may believe that they are socially incompetent or unlikable, leading to negative self-evaluation and low self-esteem. This, in turn, can reinforce their social anxiety symptoms, creating a cycle of negative thoughts and behaviors.
On the other hand, low self-esteem can lead to negative self-evaluation, which can trigger anxiety in social situations. For example, people with low self-esteem may worry that they will say or do something embarrassing in front of others, leading to feelings of anxiety and fear. This negative self-evaluation can reinforce social anxiety symptoms, leading to avoidance of social situations and isolation.
Individuals with low self-esteem may also be more sensitive to criticism or negative feedback from others. This can lead to an increased fear of negative evaluation in social situations, contributing to social anxiety symptoms.
Finally, low self-esteem can make it challenging for individuals to assert themselves or express their needs in social situations. This can lead to feelings of helplessness or powerlessness, contributing to social anxiety symptoms.
Low self-esteem can also make it difficult for individuals with social anxiety disorder to seek help and support for their symptoms. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their social anxiety, leading to further avoidance of social situations and isolation.
Therapy addresses more than just the symptoms of social anxiety. Therapy is a self-reflective process that helps people with social anxiety disorder identify, understand, and overcome their anxiety. By increasing your self-awareness and uncovering the underlying causes of negative patterns of thinking and behaving, therapy helps you develop healthier coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills and work through past issues your social anxiety may stem from. Learn more about what makes our treatment approach different here.
If you have out-of-network benefits, your insurance may be able to reimburse you for approximately 50%-80% of each session after the out-of-network deductible is met.
Out-of-network psychotherapy coverage varies by carrier and policy. It can be confusing, but we’re here to help! If you aren’t sure whether or not you have out-of-network benefits, we can check for you. Just email your insurance card and date of birth to email@example.com
Meeting consistently and stably on a weekly basis will help build safety and trust, which is essential for the work to progress on a deeper level. Biweekly sessions impact the effectiveness of therapy.
Often, meeting less frequently results in a ‘catch up’ type of session and does not allow for the time, space, and emotional capacity needed to address what goes on beneath the surface.
Depending on the level of our work, there are also times when meeting two or more times a week is appropriate, and that will always come from us talking and making that decision together.
Therapy can last any time between a year to many more, as long as you are still progressing from our work. The length of therapy depends on what you want and need, and what you want/need can be fluid and dynamic.
Healing and personal growth is not strict or predictable. You can start off by wanting to address something very specific (e.g. “I want to feel less anxious”), but through our work together could realize a deeper meaning to these anxious symptoms (e.g. “I feel anxious because I am terrified of intimacy” to “I’ve had very familiar experiences of being emotionally suffocated when I was close to people”). Realizing these deeper long-standing issues may then shape the focus and length of treatment.
Regardless of why you are seeking therapy and how long you hope to be in treatment, it is important to remember that your thoughts and input are invaluable to me, and the pace and length of treatment will always be a collaborative discussion.
Anyone who wants a space to explore and discover more about themselves can benefit from therapy. If you’re unsure, try asking yourself these questions:
You may not need to know the full answer to these questions to try a few sessions. Sometimes, mulling this over aloud with a therapist can help you sort out your thoughts and answers. That’s also part of the therapy process!
Here are 3 simple steps.