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


I never knew I was socially anxious until I went to university. After an incident involving drug use during college, my latent social anxiety erupted and became very apparent. I was anxious almost all of the time and even paranoid that people were always talking about me. It was uncomfortable and incredibly scary. In order to deal with my anxiety I turned to alcohol to numb my feelings. The feelings never go away, though. As a socially anxious person I often avoided social situations where I feared that I might have a panic attack and embarrass myself in front of my peers. I turned down social invitations, made excuses, and pretty much lived in a shell. I was a hermit crab. Sure, I would venture out sometimes, but I would use alcohol and beta blockers as a crutch.

Last summer I hit a point of realization that I needed to seek help for my social anxiety. I had seen several therapists, but they were not helping me to address my social anxiety. I remember being in my studio apartment all weekend, having interacted with no one for more than 48 hours. A friend of mine was trying to get me to come out to barbeque or happy hour and I refused to leave my apartment. I always had an excuse. I just thought to myself “you cannot live your life this way.” You are missing out on so many opportunities to connect with people. Isn’t life enriched by the experiences you have and the people you meet?

I googled social anxiety and I found a workshop in my hometown. I went to the introductory workshop to try understand more about my condition and to perhaps sign up for group therapy. I signed up for a 20-week session in the fall in DC.  I knew this was my last chance to get over my social anxiety, or at the very least learn some tools to help me to stop avoiding and change my unhealthy thinking patterns.

The group therapy sessions fostered a community and support network of people that were dealing with the same issues as me. It felt great to know that I was not alone and that people of all walks of life, young and old deal with social anxiety. Each week I challenged myself in social experiments to put myself out there and learn how to deal with uncomfortable feelings and cognitive distortions. The most important thing I learned was that I was living too much in my head instead of being mindful and in the moment in social situations.

Cognitive restructuring worksheets (CRW) and core belief work were the most helpful exercises in group therapy. The CRW helped me break down exactly what I was feeling and pinpointed my distorted thinking in any given social situation. The core belief work helped me understand some deep-rooted beliefs I feel about myself that were not necessarily true, but I kept reinforcing due to negative thought and behavior patterns.

My life has changed considerably since group. Mainly, I feel more confident in who I am and asserting and communicating in whatever social setting I am in. Confidence is the key in overcoming social anxiety--after all, that was one of the first things I learned in group--the opposite of social anxiety is self confidence! I would recommend this group to anyone dealing with social anxiety. It has changed my life for the better.



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."

R1's Story

30-year-old African-American woman
Washington, DC

"I was bullied by all of my classmates....
I am a good person. No one can ever make fun of that."

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.'"

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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