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Social Anxiety Help is a founding regional clinic of the National Social Anxiety Center (NSAC): nationalsacenter.com


My story with social anxiety began at the age of 11 years old when I was bullied by all of my classmates in junior high school.  They talked about anything they could think of concerning me every day at school for the next two years.  As a result, I avoided social interactions with anyone who I thought would bully me again and inevitably developed social anxiety.  I went on living with this for 10 years before I sought help. 

The turning point is when I discovered cognitive behavioral therapy and joined a social anxiety CBT group.  Therapy helped me to learn various exercises to manage or even overcome many of my fears.  The exercise that has helped me the most is doing cognitive restructuring worksheets (CRW).  In order to complete a CRW, I write down a situation that has occurred or will occur that generates negative feelings, thoughts, and behavior.  I learned to take each negative situation and look for the positive in it, by writing down a constructive thought to counteract each negative thought and behavior.  The parts of the worksheet that I always complete are the following: 1.) Situation, 2.) Feelings, 3.) Thoughts, 4.) Behaviors, and 5.) Constructive Response.
An area of my life where CRW’s helped was in college.  My social anxiety was so bad that I was afraid to attend my classes.  Repeatedly, I had to withdraw from my classes.  I even dropped out of school completely by taking two medical leave of absences.  However, writing a CRW whenever I was distressed or fearful helped me to attend my classes, I conquered a big fear of mine by taking two speech courses, I achieved a 4.0 several semesters, and I took on leadership roles within various clubs.  It took me 10 years to graduate, but I received my Bachelors of Science degree.  I even went on to pursue one of my childhood dreams as a fashion model.
Through my experiences I have come to believe that God wants you to be happy with yourself.  He spoke to me and simply said “I AM.”  This phrase helped me to regain confidence in myself by focusing on what I am, instead of focusing on what I am not.  I am a good person.  No one can ever make fun of that, what God put on the inside of me: my soul, my purpose or my destiny.

I have purpose.  I learned a part of my purpose in dealing with my social anxiety.  After a year of praying to God about what I should do with my life an idea popped into my head one morning.  The idea was to start my own business.  The goal of the business is to provide counseling through writing.  I am in the process of writing a book that focuses on the positive lessons I learned while living with social anxiety.  I’m actually compiling the book together using my writing taken from old CRWs, gratitude journals, and so on. 

Finally, if you can’t let go of the fear have faith that God still exists in the midst of it.  He hasn’t left you.  I trust that God is using all of my adversaries or adversities for my greater good in the end.  The pain had a purpose to help mold me into a stronger, tried, tested, and true individual.  There is a purpose for it all that God can use to help you and help others.



M's Story

31-year-old gay, white man
Washington, DC

"I can just be me....
I moved forward. I took a risk, and the result has paid itself out so many times!"

T1's Story

33-year-old African American female
Washington, DC

"I needed to present this facade of perfection.
I didn't want to be another stereotype.
For me, I was representing my entire race
at such a young age, at 14."

K's Story

33-year-old married, white woman
Maryland, suburban DC

"I felt like I didn't really fit in with most people...
I felt like I was just bad at having conversations,
that I never knew what to say."

Liz's Story

(audio & written)
27-year-old Hispanic woman
Maryland, suburban DC
(immigrant from Peru)

"People are finally starting to see me differently.
I'm pretty confident that there are going to be more great things along the way
that are still there for me to discover later.
Social anxiety therapy has really changed my life."

D's Story

37-year-old white, male writer
Colombia, South America
(formerly of Washington, DC)

"I struggled with shyness and low self-esteem,
specifically with regard to my physical appearance and feelings of attractiveness."

S's Story

44-year-old single, female nurse
Washington, DC

"My life is different now.
I feel like I can be who I always was inside."

I's Story

(audio and written)
56-year-old gay male, retired investment banker
Washington, DC

"It is possible to find personal strength and happiness."

Mike's Story

34-year-old Jewish man
Costa Rica, Central America
(formerly of Maryland, suburban DC)

"I finally had the courage to do things I'd always hoped I'd be able to do"

C's Story

33-year-old transgender, white woman
Maryland, suburban DC

"I fell into a core belief that 
I'm fundamentally different and defective
 and that I have nothing in common with 
those I perceive to be 'normal.'"

R2's Story

26-year-old African American woman
Washington, DC

"I was living too much in my head,
instead of being mindful and in the moment in social situations."

J's Story

24-year-old gay man
Washington, DC

"Did I fit in? Was I gay enough?"

T2's Story

29-year-old South Asian man
Washington, DC

"Would people notice my nervousness?
Would I say something dumb?"

Judy's Story

(National Public Radio audio broadcast)
57-year-old white lesbian
Washington, DC

"Now it just seems like the experiments I did in the very beginning look so easy to me,
that I could do it without even thinking or without becoming at all nervous."

Justin's Story

25-year-old white man
Washington, DC

"Just having any person stopping by my cubicle at work
would bring feelings of trembling, blushing, sweating, and extreme tension."

If you have any questions or comments,
please email Larry Cohen, LICSW,
with offices in Washington, DC.

[Larry Cohen, LICSW, does not endorse any of the products or services advertised by others on this website.]

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