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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to combat several anxiety disorders that a person faces.
Rujuta Borkar Apr 7, 2019
Let's start off with an example. Some people are really scared of crowds. Even though there might be no logical reason for that to happen. Or so you might think. Then why does that happen? Let's give you an example of what might have happened. Suppose as a small child, this person was separated from the parents and lost his/her way in a crowd.
The anxiety that he/she felt when going through that experience was something that set an indelible mark on his/her mind and made him/her vary of crowds. Even after growing up and being able to think for themselves and understanding that the chances of the same incident repeating itself do not stand very high, they are still not able to rid the fear.
Why does this happen? These are the workings of the human mind. The way in which our minds work is phenomenal. The complexity of the same can be drawn in the way by which we gather experiences throughout our lives and the way in which we store them in our subconscious.
These experiences have to do with both, the good and the bad, and just as we remember all the good things, the bad things also make an impression on our minds and get stored in our subconscious. That is how we develop anxieties.
When one has anxieties, it can have an adverse effect on the ways in which we think, behave, and take decisions. That is why it becomes important to deal with social anxieties so that we can restore normalcy in our lives and not get bogged down by irrational fears.
It is in this direction that the method of cognitive behavioral therapy is directed. What is cognitive behavioral therapy and how has this therapy proven to be successful for social anxiety?

These and some more questions regarding the same will be discussed in the next sections.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is when people harbor the fear of being in a social situation because it makes them uncomfortable, vulnerable, and brings on the fear of being judged.
These situations that lead to a person harboring social anxiety could be several, like public speaking, being introduced to a crowd, or something similar where they will be in the public eye and the fear of being judged will be maximum.
This factor is more popularly known as social anxiety disorder (SAD) and can cause several physical symptoms in a person like a racing heart, sweating, stammering, difficulty in swallowing etc.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is an advanced set of psycho-therapeutic techniques which help draw a common point in the way in which we think (cognitive abilities) and thereby how we behave (mannerisms and behavior).
Our behavior is guided by the way in which we think and our thoughts are influenced by our experiences. Therefore, if there have been negative experiences, our actions will be based on those negative influences. And a pattern will thus be formed.
The way in which the varied cognitive behavioral therapy techniques work is that they target the negative thought patterns in the human mind and aim at changing those so that the root of the problem can be solved and social anxiety can be overcome.

Tackling Social Anxiety through CBT

Once social anxiety sets in, it becomes very difficult to overcome. That's because we mold our thoughts to think negatively. We harbor that anxiety and feed it by constantly living in that fear. It is something that comes naturally to us with years of constantly thinking in that direction alone.
Also, it's not that one hasn't 'thought' about overcoming it or hasn't been telling themselves that this fear is baseless and has no real ground to live on, but simply thinking about it is not the way in which this fear of social anxiety can be overcome and that is where the introduction of cognitive behavioral therapy comes in.
As we have said earlier, the different CBT techniques aim at the core of the problem and thereby challenge it to go away. CBT will differ from one person to the other when it comes to dealing with and overcoming social anxiety. Depending on the severity of the disorder, a therapist will mold the therapy to suit the needs of an individual.
The first step in dealing with social anxiety is to find the root of the fear―of why that fear was harbored in the first place. This makes the treatment easier. The therapy will also focus on dealing with the physical symptoms that make way as a part of social anxiety through relaxation and breathing techniques.
The therapist will then use ways by which the negative thoughts that are being constantly fed will be changed. This is where the main workings of the CBT techniques come into play. All of this will be done in a systematic way and a gradual process will follow, depending on the progress of the patient.
This is done through certain sessions and activities which could involve exercises and games, positive reinforcement techniques, hypnotherapy, as well as certain other methods. These will solely depend on the severity of the case and therefore will differ from person to person.
Other than trying to eradicate the way in which a person thinks (negative thoughts), an infusion of positive thoughts will also be carried forth so that the person's thoughts are replaced by positive thoughts.
Not only does CBT work for social anxiety, but is also proven to be successful for combating several other problems like phobias, depression, alcoholism, and the like. This technique is gaining a lot of popularity because of its success rate, its speed, and how effective it has proven to be.
Social anxiety need not be a problem that affects your normal functioning, influences your behavior negatively, and deteriorates the quality of your life. Not when there are cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that you can focus on and choose a stress-free life. It is something that you can look into in the hopes of gaining control over your life.