Social Anxiety can range from shyness around people to an overwhelming fear of situations that involve interacting with others which can result in an inability to engage in normal every day activities.
People who suffer from social anxiety often worry about what people will think of them and fear being criticised. They feel like they are in the spotlight and everyone can see how nervous they are and they fear saying or doing something that will make them look foolish.
To cope with social anxiety people avoid social situations that may make them feel unsafe, and this can result in them becoming socially isolated. Unfortunately, because they engage in social activities less and less this can often increase their social anxiety and lead to depression.
You may find yourself worrying about up-coming social events and not wanting to go, and so choose to look for excuses to back out. There may be certain people who you find difficult to interact with, or certain social situations that increase your anxiety (such as birthday parties). It may be that there are specific activities within social situations (such as ordering or eating food) that you struggle with.
It can be difficult for someone with social anxiety to seek counselling because counselling is a therapy which takes place within a social interaction. Anna will be sensitive to any concerns you may have, she will take time to build a relationship with you and help you access counselling effectively.
Using CBT Anna will encourage you to understand your social anxiety and how you react to social situations. You will evaluate how you have coped in the past and learn new strategies which you will practice in ‘safe’ situations until you feel confident to use them in wider social settings too. You will be given tasks to explore how you respond to social situations and to consider different ways of thinking and behaving in those situations. You will also be encouraged to gradually increase your attendance at social events, practicing the strategies you have been given and evaluating them at counselling to see how they are affecting your anxiety.
By engaging in activities more frequently and analysing with Anna what strategies worked well for you, you will feel more in control, more confident and more able to look forward to and enjoy these activities.