Social Anxiety Help
Larry Cohen, LICSW
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.'”
I am a 33-year-old transgender white woman. I have struggled with depression and anxiety, including social anxiety, throughout my life. I had gender issues as early as I can remember as well as ADHD, and throughout my childhood I was bullied and excluded. In particular, 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’.
I began transitioning when I was 26 and began living full-time as my authentic self when I was 27, and through therapy and progress in my transition, I was able to address many issues and negative core beliefs that had previously hurt me, particularly gender identity issues. I was able to build a new life for myself, land a decent job and even get married.
However, my social anxiety remained and greatly hindered me professionally as well as personally. I struggled with asserting myself, admitting to mistakes, asking for help and socializing with my cisgender and heterosexual people. At my job, I quickly became isolated and my social anxiety poisoned the working relationship with my supervisor. As things grew worse, it became clear that I needed to address my social anxiety. I ended up being fired on the same day as my first group session, and I walked into my first session with a box full of belongings from my desk.
During group, I learned many new techniques and strategies for lessening my social anxiety. I found the cognitive restructuring and mindfulness approaches immediately helpful, and I continue to use many of those techniques now. Using experiments, I was able to become much more comfortable at parties and professional networking events.
During the course of group, my confidence noticeably improved. My job search went from hearing nothing for months to 2-3 interviews per week. Almost immediately after the last session, I was offered a job at an investment consulting firm and I started there a couple weeks later. I’m already getting positive reviews from my supervisor and coworkers. I honestly believe that the social anxiety group was crucial to my success.
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