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Confidence / Shyness / Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is a distressing anxiety condition that is highly treatable with CBT. Social anxiety has a lifetime occurrence of 12% (Kessler, 2005) and can be very prevalent across ages incl later life.


Social phobia or social anxiety is evidenced by a range of indicators incl:

  • a fear of negative evaluations from others
  • avoidance of social interactions

Social phobia is a risk factor for a range of other problems, including loneliness because those with social anxiety have fewer social relationships and are less likely than others to date / marry.

Treatment towards better

Social anxiety is highly treatable with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), sometimes alongside anti-anxiety medicines. The CBT therapist aims to alleviates emotional distress by working collaboratively with clients to break problems into smaller parts and troubleshooting these. The latter can include identifying and ultimately changing maladaptive thinking and thoughts.

Alongside, or prior to therapy many people with anxiety can benefit by making lifestyle changes themselves, such as getting more exercise, cutting down on alcohol, stopping smoking and eating more healthily.  Self-care and compassion are also vital because symptoms can improve when we look after ourselves, and treat ourselves with kindness, care and respect.

"I had this (social anxiety) problem for many decades ... but therapy has helped me see a new way of thinking and a new way of behaving – so that my energy is not wasted any more. ... I have many things now to look forward to each day, and could never have imagined this (social) world that has now opened up to me. I feel very very very thankful. Thank you Ann."

– Martha (social anxiety)

“Absolutely I would recommend CBT, it was a godsend. I was in a tough place ... I was having a hard time physically postcovid; everything was low incl my energy and my mood. I was not sure what to think at the start, but over the sessions I started to implement the strategies, and they have definitely helped me. I am just nicer to myself – and I am nicer to everyone. When you are nicer to yourself you feel better. You did a real good job Ann. I would highly recommend you.”

– Martin: Low mood and anxiety (R459; 6sessions)

“Panic was stopping me functioning. I used to be really shaky too. I should have gone to get help sooner; I just let it go on too long. My advise to anyone else in this situation is not to leave it, as it will not get better. You can learn the techniques, and they do work. This CBT has really helped. The future is opening up so that I have choices now ... rather than being at the mercy of panic. ... In CBT you learn better strategies and why the panic happens, and more importantly, that avoidance doesn’t help. ... Anxiety can be v disabling, but it doesn’t have to be. I would definitely recommend CBT.”

– Teresa: Social anxiety and panic (R431; 6 sessions)