Does being nervous or uncomfortable around other people keep you from doing things you want to do? Does being the center of attention make you feel nervous and self-conscious? Millions of Americans experience severe anxiety in a number of social situations. When such anxiety interferes with the quality of a person’s life, we call it “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
Perhaps you have seen the TV commercials for Paxil, an antidepressant medication that has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of social anxiety. Medication can help reduce anxiety in social situations, but many people prefer a non-medical solution. Fortunately, there is substantial research evidence that suggests that cognitive-behavioral therapy is a very effective method for overcoming social anxiety.
In cognitive-behavioral therapy, the client is taught how to control the physical symptoms (e.g. rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, muscle tension) that often accompany social anxiety. The client is also taught how to overcome his/her fears by developing more positive ways of thinking about the situation. The therapist acts as a coach who encourages the client throughout the whole process. If the client lacks the social skills necessary to feel comfortable, these are taught as part of the treatment.
Personally, I love coaching people through this process, because I can see them literally set free from the bondage of fear that may have held them down for years. If social anxiety is holding you back, I urge you to seek help from a psychologist who uses the cognitive-behavioral approach.