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


I realized I suffered from social anxiety early in college. While I was always shy in class and preferred to avoid public speaking as a child, I never thought I was any different than anyone else. When I began college, I started to realize that I acted very differently around people that I knew well and strangers. I think my friends and family would describe me as very outgoing, some would even describe me as an extrovert. When I’m with a group of people I know well, I don’t mind being the center of attention. At the very least I feel very comfortable if someone asked me to do a speech in front of family or friends; I’d jump at the chance.

I started to notice a major gap between my interaction with those close to me and strangers when I started college. I dreaded the first day of class, especially in small classes where we would introduce ourselves. As we went around the room, my anxiety would grow. What would I say? Would people notice my nervousness? Would I say something dumb? As soon as we received our syllabus for a class, I would look through it to find how much participation or presentations counted as a part of the grade. I just wanted a class where we would take exams or write papers, I wanted to avoid presentations at all costs.

I began taking anti-depressants during my senior year of college. Initially it provided me with the relief I needed. I felt more willing to meet more people, and most importantly, I was ready to attack presentations in my classes. My final year in college went smoother than the previous 3 years; I met more people and really enjoyed myself throughout. I finally felt like my true self.

After starting work, I noticed that much of the anxiety I used to have when doing presentations returned. Over the next few years, I went back and forth between using the anti-depressants and not. There would always be a trigger (almost always related to public speaking) that would send me back to them. 

I finally decided to address the problem head-on rather than just use medicine to provide a temporary band-aid. I found Social Anxiety Help online and decided to try out CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy). From the moment I began therapy, I knew that CBT could be life-changing. Simply talking to someone about this secret that I was hiding from my closest friends and most of my family gave me a feeling of freedom.

I met individually with Larry every two weeks, and during each meeting we would set up tasks for me carry out over the next few weeks. Carrying out these tasks took a lot of courage but I saw immediate results. Practicing mindfulness while attacking each of the tasks brought me the most relief I’ve ever felt in my entire life. Before I knew it, I was making presentations and speaking in front of my entire company.

While there’s still work for me to do, I now know how to approach situations that may cause anxiety with a logical, effective approach.



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.'"

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?"

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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