Social Anxiety Therapy to Know About
Did you know that there are a number of different types of therapy for social anxiety?While most people have heard of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), it is not the only type of therapy for social anxiety.
The good thing is that many of the techniques used in different types of therapy for social anxiety can also be applied as self-help strategies. So, it can be helpful to be aware of the different types of therapy for social anxiety.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Let’s start with the most well-known and effective therapy for social anxiety—CBT. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is just as it sounds: one part changing your thoughts, one part changing your behaviors.
Typically, a person will spend about 16 weeks working one-on-one with a therapist and a workbook. You will learn how to replace unhelpful thoughts related to your social anxiety and also how to gradually push yourself to face the social and performance situations that cause you anxiety and fear.
(*Note: We all know social anxiety can be hard to manage. This book on Amazon is the best I have found to deal directly with the problem.)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy for social anxiety involves identifying your values in life and then working to accept your anxiety while adhering to what you see as important. Instead of trying to eliminate or reduce your negative thoughts, in ACT, you choose to accept them but not pay as much attention to them.
For example, you might be taught to view your thoughts as leaves floating down a river or as passengers on a bus: they are there but you don’t need to get caught up in them. Acceptance and commitment therapy is also a good candidate for self-help that you can practice on your own at home, and there are several books on the topic to help you with that.
These aren’t strictly considered to be a type of therapy for social anxiety, but mindfulness-based techniques are also often used for social anxiety. The goal of mindfulness is to practice focused awareness.
This means, instead of being caught up in negative thoughts in your mind, you focus your attention on your surroundings. Each time you find yourself starting to panic, you would return yourself to mindful awareness, such as by using your senses (five things you can see, hear, touch, feel, smell).
Yes, I’m talking about the stuff Freud did! Well, kind of. Psychodynamic therapy is a shorter version of the psychoanalysis that Freud pioneered.
This type of therapy for social anxiety might be applied by a therapist looking to uncover underlying causes such as harsh or critical parents, underlying conflicts such as a fear of success, and worries about making a perfect first impression. It isn’t likely that you could practice this type of therapy for social anxiety on your own as a self-help technique.
The focus of interpersonal therapy for social anxiety will be on the personal relationships in your life that need attention. Given the nature of social anxiety, this type of therapy may be very well suited to the problem.
Unfortunately, there is still not a lot of research evidence on the use of this type of therapy for social anxiety. It’s also not likely something that you can do on your own as self-help. However, if your main problem is anxiety in your relationships with others (as opposed to a public speaking fear or fear of leaving your house/being in a crowd), then this type of therapy may be helpful for you.
If you don’t have access to a therapist to receive one of these types of therapy for your social anxiety, I strongly recommend purchasing a self-help book—particularly one on cognitive-behavioral therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy methods.
A good choice for ACT is the Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety and Shyness. If you prefer to try CBT, I suggest The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook.
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