People with social anxiety have an intense dread of social situations. They try to avoid situations where they might be judged negatively by others. They fear they will act in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating.
People with social anxiety often feel caught in a vicious cycle. They anticipate being embarrassed in social situations. Such negative expectations trigger anxiety symptoms, such as sweating or blushing. These symptoms then become the focus of their fear and they shy away from situations that might elicit these uncomfortable sensations.
The Downward Spiral of Social Anxiety
(From Managing Social Anxiety)
Cognitive Therapy for Social Anxiety
There are three components in the treatment of social anxiety. We help individuals re-evaluate the thoughts that accompany feared social interactions. (e.g. “I will make a fool of myself”, “Everyone will see how anxious I am”) We then help people take on social situations gradually so they become more comfortable in situations that have frightened them. Finally, we teach anxiety management techniques, such as relaxation skills and attention control skills.