Social Anxiety


Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as Social Phobia, is characterized by a fear of being negatively judged by others. Anxiety may be experienced in a variety of social situations, including:

  • public speaking
  • participating or presenting at meetings
  • talking with a group of people
  • being assertive with others
  • dating or talking to romantic interests
  • being watched while writing or eating
  • having one-on-one conversations
  • talking with authority figures

Many people feel temporary discomfort in these situations, because social anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with social anxiety disorder experience fear in situations like these to the point that it causes them problems and missed opportunities. They may worry about upcoming social obligations for days in advance. They may experience physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, trembling or shaking, difficulty breathing, or other panic-like feelings when in a feared social situation. In an attempt to manage their anxiety, they might begin avoiding the situations that make them feel anxious, resulting in a limiting and unfulfilling lifestyle.

Having extreme and frequent social anxiety often interferes with a person’s quality of life and ability to function well at work, school, or in relationships with others. People with social anxiety disorder are at increased risk for depression, alcohol abuse, and suicide attempts–even more so than people who have other types of problems with anxiety. Fortunately, social anxiety disorder is a treatable condition.


Approaches that work

Two primary approaches have been proven effective in the treatment of social anxiety disorder: (1) Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a treatment based firmly on research findings. A major focus of this treatment is to help individuals change the way they perceive situations and events in their lives and develop skills to better cope with anxiety.(2) Medication treatments have also been proven to be effective in the treatment of social anxiety disorder.

Treatment at the Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple

The Social Anxiety Program at the AACT is a treatment, research, and training clinic for social anxiety disorder and life problems associated with it. At any given time, research studies are being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments for social anxiety. In fact, many of the people who seek treatment at the AACT end up taking part in one of the ongoing treatment-outcome studies. Evaluation and treatment (for qualified adults) are available on a sliding fee scale, and participation in funded studies is free of charge.

Checklist for Signs of Social Anxiety

Please take a moment to think about whether any of the following statements apply to you. If you answer “yes” to some of these statements, you may benefit from treatment for social anxiety.

1. I feel anxious or nervous when making presentations for work or school (or almost always avoid these situations).
2. I feel anxious or nervous when interacting with others (or almost always avoid these situations).
3. I feel anxious or nervous eating or drinking in front of others.
4. I have trouble being assertive with family, friends, or strangers.
5. I have difficulty interacting with authority figures (i.e., boss or teacher).
6. I have used alcohol or tranquilizers to calm my nerves before interacting with others.
7. I am afraid I will do something to humiliate or embarrass myself in a social situation.
8. I fear being judged as inadequate or incompetent by others.