Extreme fear of social interaction can lead people to avoid social situations, even if it means losing a job or contact with family and friends.
And, like many mental disorders, it’s difficult to treat.
Group therapy for social anxiety is a treatment option that has gained momentum. For some, it’s more effective than individual therapy. And more affordable, too.
In looking for a sense of community, an opportunity to learn from others’ experiences, and a safe place to practice social skills—group therapy might be the right approach.
Group therapy is useful for people with a debilitating fear of social situations, mostly because it helps them practice interaction with others. The very thing causing their anxiety.
According to research, the leading treatment for social anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT techniques help people change thoughts and perceptions related to situations that cause anxiety.
During an introductory session, the therapist or therapists present the cognitive behavioral model and the rationale behind the treatment. The group then works on exposures, cognitive restructuring, and homework assignments.
Either in the sessions or as homework, group members stay in a situation long enough to feel reduced anxiety.
Role-playing in the group also allows practice with a safe audience. For example, group members might practice placing an order at a restaurant or making a call on the phone. This type of simulation helps to reinforce calming techniques.
Group members test beliefs like “I’m going to look stupid!” or “I don’t know how to ask for my order.”
Before and after exposures, they are asked to evaluate which thoughts were helpful. Then, shown better ways to approach the situation.
Assignments consist of facing real-life situations that group members role-played.
By thinking about how they handled their anxiety in role-playing situations, they learn to adapt to real-life situations.
Participants meet regularly with a small group of others who suffer from social anxiety. Guided by a therapist, they work together to learn and practice techniques to overcome it.
Group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy does not.
Successful therapy groups for social anxiety follow some basic guidelines.
No matter what your social anxiety triggers, group therapy provides a safe place. You can learn to calm yourself and gain a more realistic perspective.
Group therapy for social anxiety works for many.
Exposures and practice improve your ability to assert yourself. Role-playing teaches you to relax and perhaps even enjoy interacting with people. In the safety and comfort of a group setting, you can face situations more confidently in the real world.
You can learn more about Group Therapy at the Center for Mental Wellness HERE.