Social anxiety therapy typically involves individual psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, and may involve medication. At times, doctors will prescribe patients to undergo both treatments to adequately and more effectively overcome this disorder. Depending on the severity of the disorder, as well as the patient’s willingness to participate, group meetings may also be coordinated for social anxiety therapy.
The type of social anxiety therapy a patient is assigned largely depends on the extent of the person’s disorder. While some people may only experience anxiety in certain social situations, such as being asked to speak in front of a crowd, others may experience more disruptive variations of the disorder, such as fearing strangers, public places or unfamiliar surroundings. All types of social anxiety therapy begin with an in-depth assessment that explores the nature of the person’s social anxiety, as well as its origins, symptoms and triggers.
Once doctors have an accurate definition of a person’s disorder, an appropriate type of social anxiety therapy is recommended. Commonly, such treatment begins with talk therapy. Specifically, cognitive-behavioral therapy is employed to encourage patients to talk to a trained therapist about specific fears and emotional responses to those fears. While administering this type of social anxiety treatment, doctors are able to help patients better understand the origin of a social phobia, explore ways of controlling symptoms and clearly identify ways in which symptoms are triggered. Whether offered under the heading of panic therapy, shyness therapy or agoraphobia therapy, this type of social anxiety therapy eventually also exposes the patient to situations that cause anxiety in an attempt to help the patient cope with these situations within a controlled setting.
In more severe cases, individuals suffering from social anxiety may also be prescribed medication. Commonly, such medications include anti-depressants as well as specific anti-anxiety drugs. Patients who are prescribed medication are also recommended to continue meeting with a therapist to discuss ways of managing and coping with social anxiety.
Occasionally, doctors will recommend group meetings during the course of social anxiety therapy. Such meetings take place in a controlled setting and consist of other patients who are also working to overcome the same or similar social anxieties. Normally, this type of social anxiety therapy is introduced only after a person has undergone individual therapy and has shown a positive progression in treatment.