Social Anxiety Help
Larry Cohen, LICSW; Director
I work collaboratively with clients to help them establish and reach concrete personal goals. I believe that successful psychotherapy is a collaborative effort. As a therapist, it is not my job to cure anyone. Rather, I will offer a variety of resources: strategies, skills, techniques, insights, support and challenge. I will assist you in applying these resources in your day-to-day life so that you can reach your personal goals. It’ll take work and determination on both of our parts.
It is generally my objective to help train you to become your own personal therapist. In other words, it is my aim that, when we discontinue our work together, you are left with insights, strategies, skills and techniques that you can continue using on your own to help you reach further goals and handle future problems. (I am also available for “booster” sessions down the road to help you with any new challenges or setbacks you may face after our initial collaboration.)
Most of my work with clients uses a very practical, active and results-oriented approach called CBT: cognitive-behavioral therapy (also known as cognitive behavior therapy, or simply cognitive therapy).
During our work together, I help clients discover how your thoughts (self-talk, mental images, and underlying attitudes or core beliefs) affect your mood and behavior. We also look at how your mood and behavior, in turn, frequently affect the way others perceive and behave toward you. This often results in vicious cycles and self-fulfilling prophecies that worsen your mood, self-esteem and relationships, and make it very hard to get what you want in life.
I believe that, in order to be satisfying to most people, therapy must bring about concrete change. Traditional therapies (sometimes called psychodynamic or insight-oriented) believe that it is necessary to learn how a present-day problem got it’s start in childhood. This is usually a very long-term and expensive process. Worse yet, research has shown that it is not likely to change our present-day problems very much. That is because, although often originating in childhood, our present-day problems have long since developed a life of their own.
In other words, there are self-defeating cycles of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that we repeatedly engage in that result in problems in mood, self-esteem and relationships. What is crucial in therapy is that we change the cycle in the present. Knowing how the cycle first started in childhood is interesting and perhaps useful … but seldom necessary. After all, we can never, ever change what happened to us in the past. We can, however, change the beliefs, behaviors and feelings that we have learned from our past experiences.
That is why I believe that an essential part of results-oriented counseling and psychotherapy is the work that clients do in between sessions in order to put into effect what is discussed and learned during the sessions. I encourage clients to choose some type of therapeutic experiment to work on: some simple way to think about and/or handle things differently than you are used to in order to understand and disrupt your self-defeating cycles. Often, I also suggest that you use a worksheet or journal to examine and challenge your thoughts and feelings, and the resulting behavior patterns. Part of what we normally talk about at each session is what you can learn from the past week’s homework experiments and written exercises, and how you can build upon this in the coming week.
With suggestions and guidance on my part, you choose your own therapy homework each week to help you make step-by-step progress toward your personal therapy goals that you also choose for yourself. Common goals that I help clients achieve include: overcoming social anxiety and social phobia; minimizing public speaking fear, stage fright, performance anxiety and sexual anxiety; surmounting other phobias and anxiety problems; overcoming depression; forming and maintaing satisfying friendships and romantic relationships; increasing assertiveness; minimizing paruresis (shy bladder); advancing your career; improving self-confidence and self-esteem; coming out and accepting one’s sexuality and sexual identity.
I received my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from the University of Michigan in 1987. I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) in the District of Columbia. I am also licensed in Maryland and Virginia, so I can have sessions with you by video or phone call when you are located there.
I have been extensively trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), group psychotherapy, and crisis intervention. I am a Certified Diplomate in Cognitive Therapy through the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. I am also a Diplomate in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, the highest credential offered by the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists. I am certified in Trial-Based Cognitive Therapy, which utilizes role-playing exercises to facilitate attitude change. I am a Certified Group Psychotherapist, and am a founder of the National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists.
Washingtonian magazine included me in their most recent list of “Top Therapists” in the DC area.
I worked for several years at the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, DC: one of the nation’s largest health centers for HIV and AIDS, and for the lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) community. I served as their first Mental Health Services Director, as well as their first Volunteer Resources Director. I have a 40-year history of volunteer work in varied human services and social justice issues.
I have a special interest in therapy groups and support groups as a means of helping people with common concerns empower each other. I have led 94 social anxiety therapy groups (20-weeks each), as well as many other therapy groups for depression, relationships, self-esteem, coming out, and AIDS. I have also led many support groups on a variety of issues, and supervised a team of Whitman-Walker Clinic support group leaders for seven years.
I am a 63-year-old gay, Jewish man.
The Director of Social Anxiety Help
has achieved the rigorous certification in
cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
granted by the prominent
Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies.
This is the gold-standard for CBT,
which outcome studies indicate is
the most effective treatment for
Social Anxiety Disorder