CBT for Social Anxiety

November 19, 2013 at 6:00 PM

While walking along, a flock of squawking ducks flies over.  That’s sort of nice.

“Nice ducks,” I say.  (Oh, man, I hope that didn’t sound dorky.)

“Oh, um,” says George, “actually, I think they’re geese.”

“Oh, whoops,” I say.  (Shoot, now George thinks I’m really stupid ‘cause I can’t even tell ducks and geese apart.  Oh, man. I’m such an idiot.)

The dialogue above is from a story about a man with social anxiety.  If this character’s internal chatter reminds you of your own, you may have social anxiety as well.

Social anxiety is a fear of social activities, particularly ones involving unfamiliar people (e.g., parties, dating).  There is a strong fear of situations in which one might be judged by others and a fear of humiliating or embarrassing oneself.  As the excerpt above suggests, people with social anxiety often beat themselves up for even the most minor social gaffes.

Social anxiety consists of 4 components:  thoughts (“He thinks I’m a dork”), feelings (anxiety, shame), physical reactions (blushing, sweating), and behaviors (avoidance).  People with social anxiety often find that their lives shrink, becoming smaller and smaller, as they avoid the activities that typically lead to fulfilling social lives.

The good news is that social anxiety is very treatable!  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective in treating social anxiety, enabling people to change their thoughts and behaviors, thereby leading to more adaptive functioning in the social realm.  It involves active participation on the part of the client, and, while it is a good deal of hard work, it can pay off in the end.  In short, CBT for social anxiety can transform people’s lives.  A life once withered and fading, can become fuller and richer.

If you would like more information on social anxiety and CBT therapy, please contact the psychologists at Verdant Oak Behavioral Health in South Pasadena, CA at 323-345-1402 or by visiting our website at


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