DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH ANXIETY?
Do you become extremely anxious when talking in front of a group or during public speaking? Do you struggle with initiating or maintaining conversations? Is it difficult for you to eat around others at restaurants or perform in front of others? Is it difficult for you to interact with new people? Are there situations that you avoid completely or can only do with a companion (e.g., going shopping, attending parties)? Do you escape situations that involve others so that you won’t experience anxiety out of fear of shame or embarrassment? If so, you may experience symptoms consistent with social anxiety. Social anxiety is an experience we all have in situations where we might be negatively evaluated by others. However, many people suffer from social anxiety so much that it makes work, school, and social relationships difficult. When social anxiety becomes so intense that it messes things up in our lives, it may become what is known as social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety is the most common anxiety disorder and the third most common mental health condition in the United States. Social anxiety disorder affects roughly 15 million adults each year and typically begins around age 13 (for more information on statistics about social anxiety disorder, visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America here). Although only one-third of individuals suffering from anxiety disorders receive treatment, social anxiety symptoms and social anxiety disorder are very treatable in a time-limited fashion.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the gold-standard, evidence-based treatment for social anxiety disorder. Dr. Chapman is a recognized expert in the assessment and treatment of social anxiety disorder and has published numerous articles describing CBT for social anxiety in addition to describing social anxiety treatment in the media/social media. Dr. Chapman also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety (for information on social anxiety and Dr. Chapman’s role with AKFSA click here). Through the utilization of CBT, Dr. Chapman teaches each client to become his or her “own Psychologist” through the use of evidence-based techniques which generally takes place in 10-17 sessions. Treatment of social anxiety includes the following components:
- Psychoeducation about the nature of social anxiety including what causes social anxiety
- Teaching clients to recognize the three components of social anxiety and the three components of treatment (which includes homework)
- Teaching clients to treat thoughts as hypotheses rather than facts
- The importance of gradually confronting social anxiety-provoking situations after the aforementioned skills are learned