CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder is a mental health disorder that is characterized by the fear of being negatively evaluated or perceived during social interactions and social situations involving evaluation.

What are the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social interactions may cause the following psychological and physiological symptoms:

  • Intense worrying about rejection and criticism
  • Intense worrying about being embarrassed
  • Avoiding social situations or situations where evaluation could occur
  • Physiological symptoms (nausea, heart-racing, excessive sweating, flushed face and light-headedness)

When is it time to get help?

Anxiety is a common feeling that is universally experienced. Whether it is a job interview or a first date, it is normal to feel afraid. However, when these feelings start to become too overwhelming or common, it may be time to seek help. A few ways to evaluate the severity of your social anxiety are to consider how it is affecting various aspects of your life. For example, if you have trouble completing daily activities, initiating or keeping up your relationships, presenting, or sharing important opinions at work, your anxiety may be disrupting your life. An individual typically seeks treatment when their anxiety reaches a point of causing them significant distress and/or begins to impair their functioning in important life domains (school, work, personal life and relationships).

How can CBT help treat Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder is commonly and effectively treated with CBT. There are a number of key components of this treatment approach. Firstly, individuals will be educated on the relationship between how they think, feel and behave. Monitoring this relationship helps individuals understand their disorder more deeply and gives them a framework to start making changes to improve their situation.

Secondly, cognitive restructuring is one of the main components of CBT. The goal of cognitive restructuring is to replace misconceptions and irrational thought patterns with more rational thinking. Anxious individuals often have maladaptive thoughts that tend to lead them to the worst-case scenario. Through CBT, automatic distorted thought patterns can be identified and altered to interpret the environment and predict the future in a more flexible and realistic manner.

Thirdly, exposure therapy involves gradually introducing individuals to anxiety inducing situations with the hopes of these situations evoking less fear in the future. These improvements often occur due to individuals being able to gather evidence that suggests their negative predictions are less likely to occur. Moreover, individuals begin to understand that they are equipped to cope if the negative predictions were to come true.

Other skills often paired with CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder involve relaxation training efforts, social skills training and assistance with assertiveness.

How can the team at Oakville Centre for Cognitive Therapy help?

At Oakville Centre for Cognitive Therapy, we have psychologists who have extensive experience in helping children, adolescents, and adults overcome the potentially devastating effects of Social Anxiety Disorder. If you have symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder that you would like to overcome, please take the first step and reach out to us at: 905-338-1397.

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