Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is the state of being extremely tense or nervous in situations involving other people. According to NoPanic, “there were around 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK in 2013.” Since social anxiety is also a form of general anxiety you can imagine why a large majority of people suffer from this life-altering problem. CBT therapy can can significantly increase the quality of life of people suffering from social anxiety disorder.
What is CBT Therapy?
CBT is an acronym for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and it has become the treatment of choice when it comes to anxiety and depression. Through CBT, people learn different methods of dealing with their feelings and thoughts, and learn to engage in different behaviours resulting in decreased levels of fear and reduced stress levels. CBT therapy also helps people learn social skills and frequently practice them to become better at it and conquer their social anxiety. And unlike the typical talk-therapy, CBT therapy for social anxiety is more than just the ‘talk’.
CBT is an active treatment that involves the training of social skills and home-based assignments for behavioural changes. By learning and practising these skills, people learn to better understand themselves and their thought patterns. Due to its significant positive effects and result-oriented approach, CBT therapy for social anxiety usually takes no more than 16 sessions.
Benefits of CBT therapy for social anxiety
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been proven to be effective for social anxiety disorder, as suggested by many studies. Recognised for its effectiveness, CBT therapy can be a powerful tool in dealing with social anxiety.
You get long-term results
Unlike medication, which tends to treat anxiety only at symptom level, CBT therapy offers long term results. The therapy emphasises “getting better, not just feeling better”. It helps people dealing with social anxiety disorders find, tackle, and correct their underlying assumptions causing some of the problems. And by correcting those issues, one by one, people observe long term results.
You learn to relax
The biggest problem with people who have social anxiety is that they become really anxious and frightened when they find themselves in situations requiring social skills or social interaction. CBT helps people learn how to approach social interactions with a calm and clear mind.
You think more rationally
Instead of reacting to everything and going down into the bottomless pit caused by “automatic negative thoughts” (ANTs), CBT therapy helps people learn new strategies to put a stop to unwanted thinking and let the brain know “who’s in charge.”
You think differently about yourself
When you start to take control of your thoughts, thanks to CBT, your beliefs about yourself change as well. You start to see yourself as a better person who is more confident and is well-equipped to deal with any social interactions, helping you avoid the trap of pondering over how people perceive you.
You communicate better
Besides just learning how to talk to anyone with confidence, you learn to maintain healthy relationships as well. The key to having any type of healthy relationships is open communication. But when you are suffering from social anxiety, you tend to bottle things up. Through CBT, you learn to communicate your feelings to others without feeling shame, embarrassment, or anger.
You get strong support
An additional benefit of receiving CBT counselling is that people know they have someone to turn to while they work through their issues. Receiving help from a certified CBT therapist provides a safe and positive environment where you can discuss literally anything. This encourages people to open up and work towards breaking the chains of negative thoughts.
Causes of social anxiety
- Hereditary Causes: Some people inherit anxiety disorders that tend to run in their family. However, it is not clear whether it’s because of genetics or learned behaviour, which leads us to the next cause.
- Social and Emotional Environment: Some people can develop social anxiety after facing an embarrassing or unpleasant social situation. It can also be caused by the anxious behaviour of parents in social situations or if they are overprotective or controlling in their relationship with their children.
- Brain Structure: Amygdala, a structure in the brain, may have a role in controlling response to fear. People with overactive amygdala might have amplified fear response to social situations causing social anxiety disorder.
Why CBT is an effective treatment in overcoming social anxiety
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has objectives that both the therapist and the patient tackle one at a time. This allows them to keep track of the progress and measure success as they move forward. Some facts about CBT therapy are:
- It is considered the “Gold Standard” in all the talk therapies. (NCBI)
- CBT alone is considered to be 50% to 75% effective in overcoming anxiety and depression after just 8 to 15 sessions. (MedCircle)
- If a person is dealing with a high level of social anxiety to the point where they feel unable to attend an in-person therapy session, CBT can also be done online and studies show that online CBT therapy can be just as effective as face-to-face sessions. (NCBI)
All of these facts make it evident that CBT is one of the best ways to deal with social anxiety and the best part is, unlike medication, it has no side effects.
CBT therapy for social anxiety in London
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