Social Anxiety Treatment
Social Anxiety is one of the most common problems treated at the Ändern Centre. It is the most common of the anxiety disorders and the third most common psychological problem worldwide, with about 12% of adults experiencing it for a period in their lifetime. Also known as social phobia, it can be seen as an extreme form of shyness. As with most anxiety problems, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) treatment is heavily, but not exclusively, focused on overcoming avoidance.
Social anxiety can be defined as the persistent fear of negative evaluation in social or performance situations usually linked to negative self-preoccupation. Sufferers experience a range of problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviours. While sufferers often believe that their problems are insignificant and may fear a lack of understanding from others, the effects of social anxiety can be extremely disabling and severely limit one’s enjoyment of life.
There are two subtypes of social anxiety:
It is a very individualised type of anxiety. One sufferer might be able to give a public speech to upwards of 100 people but yet panic at the thought of meeting others during the canapés and wine afterwards. Another sufferer may enjoy having a social evening with a large number of friends yet panic at the thought of meeting somebody 1:1. However, some of the most commonly feared scenarios involve public speaking, large gatherings, speaking to the opposite sex and work/study based situations.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) treatment begins with a careful analysis of the specific situations which the socially anxious person finds challenging. At the same time, careful attention is given to the individual’s specific thoughts, feelings and behaviours in key challenging situations. This understanding of specific reactions leads to the formation of an individualised CBT problem conceptualisation and treatment plan.
At the Ändern Centre clients are taught ways of challenging unhelpful thoughts and behaviours whilst also learning to utilise specific tools in problem situations, such as “attentional training”. Clients are further encouraged to take on experiments within social situations that ultimately enable them to overcome their fears and lead more rewarding lives.
Unfortunately social anxiety has comparatively low spontaneous remission rates (i.e. symptoms often do not naturally reduce over time). However it responds particularly well to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), with some studies showing up to 70% success rates, making treatment highly recommended.