Social Anxiety Therapy in NYC

Social anxiety can take us away from the life we want. Therapy for social anxiety can help you lighten the burden you’re carrying and learn how to engage more confidently and effectively in your life.

Fear and Anxiety in Social Situations

You may consider yourself shy and introverted or experience difficulty in social situations. However, perhaps your shyness has moved into fears and worries about interacting with people. You may be afraid of getting humiliated, rejected, or embarrassed in social settings. And with that fear, you may avoid socializing with others, which has led to loneliness, anger, or frustration. Social Anxiety Disorder is the third most common mental health condition in the United States, so know that you’re not alone, and it’s very treatable.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety is also known as social phobia, or a fear of social situations. It can also be described as as fear of interacting with people who are unfamiliar to you, and it affects daily life functioning for many people. Social anxiety can be a particularly big liability when living or working in a big metropolis like New York City.

Most people feel anxiety during social interaction at some point. New York City, especially Manhattan, is also a place to meet people socially outside of the office. You have to be skillful in interacting with groups at parties and other social gatherings. Having social anxiety may even prevent you from finding love and romantic opportunities that the city could offer.

Social Anxiety Disorder involves people feeling intense anxiety in social situations where they think they might be judged and become embarrassed, ashamed, or humiliated. People with Social Anxiety Disorder also frequently avoid going to these situations in the first place, or leave (escape) from them when their anxiety or other emotions become too much to bear.

There are beliefs that go with this kind of anxiety, like, “There is a good chance if I try to talk to that person, I won’t say the right thing and she will be judging me in her head, even if she doesn’t say so, that would be so uncomfortable.” So, there are the emotions, the behaviors of avoidance and escape, and finally the cognitions, the thoughts and beliefs that all play a role in social anxiety.

What Causes Social Anxiety?

The specific causes of social anxiety are not known, but there may be some influential biological factors.

Biological factors with social anxiety:

  • The combination of genes, which contribute to a tendency to be anxious, and negative experiences like rejection.
  • Negative past experiences like being bullied, rejected by peers or potential romantic partners, or teasing could lead to or exacerbate social anxiety.
  • They may have seen it happen to others, have seen socially anxious behaviors in their parents, or through another way incorporated beliefs like, “If I say the wrong thing, I’ll be rejected, and humiliated in front of everyone.” These kinds of beliefs can perpetuate intense levels of social anxiety that can prevent people from “putting themselves out there” and engaging in social situations.
  • Avoiding social situations completely or attending, but not initiating conversations is a very common problem. This maintains the problematic thinking, leads to low self-esteem, and often social isolation and loneliness.

Common Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety can cause extreme discomfort in social situations and can interfere with one’s ability to make friends, maintain relationships, get to know people at work or one’s personal life. Social Anxiety Disorder impacts a person’s ability to function through their lives.

If you have Social Anxiety Disorder, you might:

  • Have difficulty making eye contact
  • Apologize often
  • Seek frequent reassurance from others
  • Spend a lot of time preparing for social situations
  • Avoid social situations
  • Use alcohol to cope in social environments
  • Struggle in being introduced to strangers
  • Avoid using public restrooms
  • Find frequent excuses to leave a situation

If you have Social Anxiety Disorder, you may have beliefs that it is very likely you will embarrass yourself during social interactions. When you combine that belief with the thought of going to a party, or actually attending a party, you frequently become really anxious. Being really anxious doesn’t feel good, and one effective way to turn it off is to remove the possibility of being social, so you decide not to go to the party or walk up and talk to someone. Once you do that, what happens? Usually you feel a sense of relief, i.e., your anxiety level drops.

What do you learn from avoiding that party or choosing not to talk to someone? You learn it is a great way to turn down your anxiety. Unfortunately, you also miss the opportunity to challenge the thought that it is really likely that you’ll mess it up and be humiliated. So you keep that belief intact. By keeping that thought intact you perpetuate the social anxiety, and the only tool you have to decrease your anxiety now is to keep avoiding those situations.

The good news is, we can help. New York Behavioral Health professionals use evidence-based practices that can help you start to move toward the life you want to lead.

Contemporary care

Empathetic Experts

Our therapists and coaches have combined decades of experience and are specially trained to provide high quality, compassionate support for your health and wellbeing.

Goal oriented

We’re dedicated to using evidence-based methods to ensure you receive the most effective treatment and meet your goals.

Here to support you

personalized matching

We know that having a better relationship with your therapist leads to better outcomes, so we carefully match you with the right therapist to fit your unique needs.

compassionate care

It’s important to our therapists that you feel safe, seen, and understood in therapy. Our offices are judgment-free spaces.

Types of Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder

There are a variety of different types of therapy that are effective treatments for social anxiety. New York Behavioral Health therapists specialize in the following types of treatment:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the approach our NYC therapists seek to reduce the intensity and frequency of a client’s emotional pain, suffering, and self-defeating behaviors. CBT can help clients to cultivate skills leading to goal achievement and life satisfaction by assessing and treating:

  • Cognitions what we think
  • Behaviors what we do and say
  • Emotions how we feel
  • Relationships how we interact with others

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Social Anxiety Disorder is what’s considered a “third-wave” type of therapy developed after CBT.  ACT can help you learn how to drop the struggle with any negative thoughts and anxiety you have, rather than trying to push them away or defeat them. By building distance between yourself and your social anxiety, your symptoms will likely naturally decrease.

Social Skills Training

Social Skills Training is a type of behavioral therapy used to improve social skills in people who struggle in social contexts. In Social Skills Training, you may break down particular skills, discuss how to practice them, and role-play or model the behavior. Your therapist may segment more complex behaviors, like carrying conversations, into smaller, more digestible pieces. You may cover assertiveness, which can help you relate to others in a way that balances the needs of everyone. You may also cover verbal and non-verbal conversation cues, among other skills.

How Therapy Can Help Social Anxiety Disorder

If you have social anxiety disorder, you may face many daily struggles. Depending on the severity, your social anxiety might feel like a manageable annoyance or a severely distressing condition. Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) can address your social avoidance in two major ways.

Two ways CBT can help:

  1. One technique would be to evaluate how realistic that thought, or other thoughts like:
    • “It would be awful if I stuttered or couldn’t think of what to say, I couldn’t stand being embarrassed like that, I am so worthless for not being able to talk to other people like a normal human being,” really are.
    • You begin to recognize that while there may be some truth to some of this thinking, much of it is an exaggeration or is not based on the facts.
    • By changing these beliefs it becomes easier to approach social situations because the stakes aren’t as high and the anxiety is lower.
  2. The other technique works hand in hand with changing the beliefs and lowering the anxiety. Once that has occurred you again and again practice engaging in social situations.
    • You can start very small, e.g., ordering something at an ice cream parlor, talking to a shop clerk casually about things other than what you are buying, etc.
    • As you get more and more examples of social interactions (more intense ones as well) you have had, you will have evidence to see if it is really accurate that 95% of these will end badly, or that you really can’t stand how you feel.

By behaving against the tendency to avoid the anxiety, you in time both lower the anxiety, and diminish how much you believe those irrational thoughts. When working with a cognitive behavioral therapist, this can be done in a very precise methodical way, but it is done over time and with compassion, so that it is very manageable.

The last thing you need if you are anxious is to be pushed to be more anxious when you aren’t prepared or ready. Good NYC therapists are well aware of this and work collaboratively to ensure you are on board with the next step you are about to take.

Social Anxiety Specialists

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How Therapy for Social Anxiety Works

Step one

Connect with your therapist by either completing our matching form or reaching out to our care coordinators over the phone.

Step two

Attend a 45 minute intake session, where you will get to know your chosen therapist. The point of this visit is to learn what brought you to therapy and how we can help.

Step three

In each ongoing session, you and your therapist will use trusted therapy approaches to help you develop and reach your goals. Collaboratively, you’ll connect in a safe, comfortable space to help you engage in your life in the way you want.

You Don't Have to Suffer from Social Anxiety Any Longer

Social Anxiety Disorder can be a distressing and frustrating condition, but it is also a treatable one. By connecting with an effective NYC therapist in a compassionate, supportive environment, you can develop the tools you need to build your confidence and the life you want to lead.

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