Social Anxiety Therapy NYC

Reduce your social anxiety and become more confident interacting with others

What Is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety or social phobia is a condition that causes people intense nervousness around interacting with others. Common situations that trigger social anxiety can include party gatherings, work functions, dating, public speaking, a coworker meeting, talking on the phone, or texting.

Those with social anxiety have an intense fear of being judged, rejected, or evaluated by others. They may also worry excessively over embarrassing themselves or being ostracized by a group. Understandably, this can result in a person avoiding certain social situations entirely.

Social anxiety can impact daily function – interfering with work, relationships, and other social activities. It can also lead to loneliness, isolation, and depression. However, with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other evidence-based treatments, those with social anxiety can work through their fears and live a more self-confident life.

Different friends sitting in cafe after study spending time together, focus on frustrated lonely shy guy sitting apart, separately of others teenagers feels unhappy having problems with communication
Young woman sitting on bed covering her face with her hands while crying. Mental health concept, anxiety, depression and frustration.

Social Anxiety Symptoms

Social anxiety symptoms can differ across individuals.  Some common features of social anxiety are:

 

  • Fear of being judged or scrutinized
  • Intense anxiety over meeting new people
  • Worry you may embarrass or humiliate yourself
  • Avoiding eye contact during conversations
  • Physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating, trembling
  • Cancelling dates because you’re too nervous
  • Avoid speaking to certain people – like a boss or coworker
  • Anxiety for hours or days ahead of a social event
  • Worry that you might say the wrong things
  • Self-analyzing your performance during conversations
  • Avoiding situations where you’re the center of attention

Therapy for Social Anxiety in NYC

CBT for Social Anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a successful social anxiety disorder treatment because it was originally developed to treat anxiety and depression disorders. CBT for social anxiety focuses on how changing our thoughts can lead to improved overall well-being. The unhealthy thinking patterns involved in social anxiety disorder can be redirected.

Not only does talk therapy provide individuals affected by social anxiety with a safe space to communicate and interact, but it also allows therapists to provide exercises that shift the client’s way of thinking. It is through repetition and learning how to manage our thoughts that we can change the ways our minds work. 

Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is an issue of interpersonal relationships at its core. A person with social anxiety has a fundamental fear that they aren’t good enough, that they are burdensome to others, and that confrontation could lead to disaster. This can have disastrous effects on relationships, especially romantic relationships and close friendships. 

Interpersonal psychotherapy is an effective social anxiety disorder treatment because it focuses on relationships and interactions. Clients can learn how to constructively communicate their needs and concerns to others and how to stop catastrophic thinking. Counselors can provide objective insight into their interactions and help them view situations from a logical standpoint. 

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy for Social Anxiety

Exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) is based on exposure to a person’s fears in the context of a controlled environment. This provides them with a safe space for emotional regulation. ERP can be a great social anxiety disorder treatment by allowing clients to practice difficult conversations within the safety of therapy.

Clients can practice confrontational situations with their counselor, plan out messages they need to send, or make phone calls that make them anxious in the comfort of their therapist’s office.

Woman during a psychotherapy session

What Causes Social Anxiety?

Contributing Factors

A few contributing factors that make it more likely for a person to develop social anxiety include:

  • Emotional, Physical, or other Abuse: Experiencing abuse in any form can often lead to trust issues, hyper vigilance, low self-esteem, and difficulty processing emotions – which may result in social anxiety.
  • Negative Peer Interactions: Whether you’ve been rejected by friends, excluded by coworkers, betrayed by those you trust, or bullied in childhood – these can be contributing causes to social anxiety.
  • Over-controlling Parenting Styles: If you grew up with parents who excessively micromanaged your behaviors, emotions and decisions as a child – creating a world of anxiety at home – you might be more suspectable to social anxiety as an adult.
  • Insecure Attachment Style: People with insecure attachment styles may have more fear of rejection, hold a negative self-image, struggle with emotional regulation, or have stunted social skills. Social anxiety can result.

Common Triggers

People with social anxiety can become very anxious in different situations.  Some common examples are: 

  • New environment: Switching to a new school, job, or city often involves meeting many new people, which can be intimidating.  It’s common for social anxiety to worsen in a new environment.
  • Public Speaking: Giving a presentation at work, or answering a question in class can trigger a great deal of anxiety and induce panic attacks.
  • Going to Parties: Those with social anxiety can find attending parties or work functions very distressing.
  • Dating:  Meeting someone of romantic interest can be anxiety provoking for many people, but for those with social anxiety it can be extremely stressful.
  • Authority Figures: Interactions with a boss at work, a professor at school, or other authority figures can be a particular trigger for those with social anxiety.

Benefits of Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Anxiety disorder treatment offers several benefits, including:

  • More self-confidence, less self-consciousness
  • Improved social and romantic relationships
  • Reduced worries, fears, and anxiety levels
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Feel Better with BHNY

If social anxiety is affecting your life, our clinicians are here to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Differences in Agoraphobia vs. Social Anxiety?

Agoraphobia is the fear of places or situations that can cause helplessness, feelings of being trapped, or embarrassment. A person with agoraphobia will not want to enter a place or situation they cannot easily escape from. 

Agoraphobia and social anxiety are very similar, often overlapping and causing similar avoidances. The primary difference is the underlying motive for the fear. A person with agoraphobia fears not having control, while a person with social anxiety fears judgment.

What Does Social Anxiety in Children Look Like?

Children with social anxiety may be hesitant to join groups and play with other kids. They may be shy when it comes to participating in class discussions. A child with social anxiety may also have separation anxiety, seeing their parent as their safe place and not wanting to leave them for a classroom full of strangers. 

There is a difference between typical shyness in children and a social anxiety disorder. If you are concerned your child struggles with social anxiety, you can get them tested and seek counseling for them.