Jill leads a generally happy and productive life. She has good relationships with friends and family. However, there is one activity that has consistently been a struggle for her—eating alone in public. Though logically Jill knows it shouldn’t be a big deal, when she sits alone at a table she feels nervous, as though she’s doing something wrong, and the feeling only gets worse when her single meal arrives.
Allen is an intelligent person with an advanced education. He was able to get an entry level position at a prestigious firm, but has been passed over several times for promotion. He does not interview well, and during social occasions he gets very anxious, which does not leave a strong impression with his superiors.
Social Anxiety Counseling in West Lake Hills, TX
Austin has the great slogan “Keep Austin Weird,” and it’s indicative of the overall feeling you get walking around the town. The vibrant city is full of a variety of types of people, from business people to artists, all of whom, it seems, love the eclectic area.
There are street performers and tourists laughing on every corner, so people-watching in Austin might make you think social anxiety isn’t as common as it really is, but we promise you, appearances are deceiving. At Thriveworks West Lake Hills, we see patients for social anxiety counseling every day, so we know how common it is—and the good news is, it is treatable through counseling.
Characteristics of Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is easy to write off as “not that big of a deal” if you suffer from it only on occasion, or if your experience with it is very mild. However, it is definitely a big deal if it’s frequent or ongoing, intense, and/or impacts your daily life. It’s important to recognize that anxiety is a form of fear—and fear is in place to protect you from perceived danger. But what danger is your mind perceiving? With social anxiety, it’s likely the fear of judgment from others.
There is more than one type of social anxiety (WebMD). In one, the sufferer becomes anxious about all forms of social interaction—from going to the grocery store, to asking a question at the library, to public speaking. In the second, the person’s anxiety is triggered by specific types of interaction—perhaps the idea of a job interview, or the socializing required by dating. Counseling for social anxiety can help any of these situations. Thriveworks West Lake Hills is a calm, soothing location with therapists who understand the specific needs of those seeking social anxiety counseling, so be assured we’ll work to make the experience as effective for you as possible.
When to Seek Help
If anxiety is impacting your life, it’s time to seek therapy for social anxiety. If you’re constantly avoiding certain situations, struggle when speaking with others, or just feel anxious in crowds, counseling for social anxiety can help.
Social anxiety may not be affecting only you—it may be affecting your family. If you are unable to be present at important events where there will be crowds, particularly if the event is for your children, that may cause a rift over time. Perhaps your inability to seek promotion at work is frustrating for your spouse to watch, given that they know you are capable of the increased workload. Or perhaps your internal frustration with your anxiety is causing you to withdraw from your important relationships.
Immediate Ways to Manage Anxiety
Though counseling for social anxiety will help you recognize problematic thought patterns that create or exacerbate anxiety, there are a couple of things you can do right now to begin managing social anxiety when it starts to manifest. One, take a deep breath—and another. And another. Deep breathing calms the nervous system that is beginning to heighten.
Next, make yourself aware of neutral factors in your surroundings (Markaway): Notice the texture of the surface under your hand—is it the hard surface of a table? The rough texture of couch fabric? Find an item in your view you find pleasing to the eye and focus on it. These actions take your focus from the internal dialogue you’re experiencing and redirect it to the outside world.
If you’re experiencing anxiety severe enough to warrant techniques such as those above, social anxiety counseling could absolutely be of benefit to you. You’ll meet with a counselor in private who understands the unique situation you are in. Your trained therapist will work with you to make the experience a beneficial one.
How Social Anxiety Counseling Can Help
At Thriveworks West Lake Hills, we see both generalized social anxiety and situation-specific social anxiety in our office on a regular basis. There are a couple of techniques used most often to treat social anxiety. First, cognitive behavioral therapy, in which the person is first helped to identify anxieties and then situations that provoke the anxiety, is useful in reframing the anxiety. Second, exposure therapy is extremely helpful in overcoming anxieties. During exposure therapy, the client will first visualize themselves acting out the behavior. Then, the client may be taken to a more public space with their therapist where the behavior would normally occur and visualize the activity there. Steps continue from there, until finally the person is able to perform the activity successfully in public.
Other types of counseling may be included as needed, including management skills and family counseling when the behavior has affected the strength of the family unit.
Thriveworks West Lake Hills Social Anxiety Counseling
Imagine a world in which you’re free to engage with others, free of the weight of social anxiety. It’s possible. You’re not the first person to experience the very real struggle with anxiety—and you won’t be the first person we’ve helped. If you experience social anxiety, give us a call. Our counselors can meet you where you are and help get you on the path to recovery.
Markway, Barbara, PhD. “Must-Have Coping Strategies for Social Anxiety.” May 2013. PsychologyToday.com.
WebMD. “Social Anxiety—Topic Overview.” WebMD.com