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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia
Social phobia is best treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or a combination of CBT and medication. Cognitive behavior therapy is the treatment of choice for social phobia, with up to 80% of patients experiencing significant reduction in symptoms after 20 sessions. Follow this link to a chart comparing the effectiveness of CBT to other treatments for social anxiety. Through CBT, people learn different ways of reacting to thoughts and feelings, and hot to behave in situations that help them feel less fearful. CBT also helps people learn and practice social skills when there is a deficit. Click for more information about What CBT is and How it Works
CBT for Social Anxiety may include some combination of the following treatments:
Relaxation Training. This intervention involves teaching people ways to reduce their overall level of anxiety through breathing re-training and progressive muscle relaxation. With practice, patients learn to condition a powerful relaxation response that can be evoked in a few seconds.
Mindfulness Strategies. Mindfulness, a practice borrowed from Buddhism, helps people develop a different relationship to their anxiety-producing thoughts. Through mindfulness, the patient can learn to objectively observe their thoughts, rather than attempting to avoid or change what is being experienced.
Cognitive Restructuring. This technique helps people evaluate their worries and learn new patterns of thinking that do not make them as prone to anxiety when around other people.
Exposure therapy. This therapy helps people face and control their fear. It works off the idea that anxiety is maintained by avoiding feared situations. It exposes patients to social situations they would otherwise avoid until anxiety ceases in the face of the feared situation or event.
Social Skills and Assertiveness Training. Some people have difficulty navigating conversations, social cues, and being direct with others. This therapy helps people identify their problem areas, and teaches them the skills they need to effectively interact with others.
Doctors also commonly prescribe medication to help treat Social Phobia. The most commonly prescribed medications for panic disorder are anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants. Anti-anxiety medications are powerful and there are different types. Many types begin working right away, but they generally should not be taken for long periods. The latest research suggests the relapse rate for individuals taking medications is much higher than that of individuals using only CBT. Interestingly, there is evidence to suggest the combination of medication and CBT also leads to high relapse rates, indicating CBT is the treatment of choice for Social Phobia. Click for more information about Symptoms and Treatment of Social anxiety and Social Phobia