Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder. Does it work?

Doctor and patient discussing

In treating Social Anxiety Disorders, research shows that therapy is the most effective option. It is because therapy in Anxiety Disorders does treat the root symptoms of the problem rather than papering over the cracks when relying on anti-anxiety medication alone. Various studies have proven that one of the best therapies for treating social anxiety disorder is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a combination of various methods, strategies and techniques that has proven its effectiveness in the past. They used this approach to help people successfully overcome their particular emotional problems. CBT aims to address the negative patterns and distortions on the way we look at the world and ourselves.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has two main components:

Cognitive Therapy
It evaluates how our negative thoughts, or cognitions, contribute to anxiety. This basically means that it is our thoughts and not our outer environment affects the way we feel. It is our own perception of how things would eventually turn out that makes us either excited, neutral, happy, sad or anxious even the event has not yet taken place.
Behavioral Therapy
It examines how you behave and react in situations that trigger anxiety. This is however the opposite of cognitive therapy. In this scenario the event has already happened and your behavior is measured on how you react to the incident that took place. For example if you have done an embarrassing thing to the party that you attended, did you left with anger, were you sad, embarrassed or did you just took it lightly and shrugged it off as if nothing happened?
As a person who have been dealing with social anxiety disorder for a long time. I admit to have this sort of negative perceptions whenever I am anticipating a social gathering. There was a time that I was invited to my high school reunion. I was happy at first thought of seeing my high school classmates again after 10 years. But I eventually chicken out because of insecurity and I felt I haven’t accomplished that much compared to them. What if nobody would care to talk or what if someone remember my embarrassing moments in high school. I just couldn’t stand all those negative thoughts, so I did not show up at the end.

Improvement from cognitive behavioural therapy requires practice, patience and persistence

Cognitive restructuring or learning to think rationally is an essential component of cognitive therapy for social anxiety disorder. However you cannot automatically shut off those negative thoughts in your head once you decide to turn it off. It doesn’t work that way, it requires a step by step process to achieve a rational and realistic thinking.

According to Thomas A. Richards, Ph.d., Psychologist at The Social Anxiety Institute, both the cognitive and behavioral therapy must be thorough and comprehensive for the successful treatment of social anxiety. Of course it would not be accomplished if not coupled with persistence, consistency and motivation, says Richards.

About Lea 26 Articles
Lea shares tips for overcoming social anxiety drawing on her own experiences of dealing with it since childhood. Thankfully, she was able to learn how to now let it get in the way of living a happy, fulfilling life and that changing the way you think can change the way you feel.

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