Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is not only one of the most common forms of anxiety disorders but also ranks within the top four most common mental health issues. People with social anxiety have a fear of being rejected, negatively evaluated, being the center of attention, or embarrassing oneself. Approximately 13% of the US population will experience social anxiety at some point during their life.
Social anxiety takes on several forms: fear of social interaction, fear of performing in front of others, and fear of public speaking. The level of severity is on a continuum from mildly disabling where there is little impact on functioning to severely disabling where most interactions are avoided or experienced with extreme distress. People with severe social anxiety can be isolated from others and have difficulty holding a job or attending school. Co-occurring depression is common as a result of the life limitations. Substance and alcohol abuse may be an attempt to self-medicate social anxiety.
What causes social anxiety is not fully understood. Psychologists believe that social anxiety is likely caused by some interaction between genetic predisposition, learned through modeling from the person's environment, and experiencing a social trauma.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help people learn to manage their social anxiety. The three most important components of CBT are psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, and exposure therapy. The therapists as Pacific CBT tailor treatment to each person's unique needs. For some people, individual therapy will be most helpful in reducing symptoms. For others, group therapy may be more effective. Lastly, for some a combination of individual and group therapy may produce the best results. Following the assessment phase of treatment (typically the first 2 - 3 sessions) your therapist will make recommendations and lay out a preliminary treatment plan.