CBT Treatment for Social Anxiety - Sevenoaks & London

We provide fast and effective treatment for Social Anxiety from our clinics in Sevenoaks  and London Bridge. You can also organise Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Social Anxiety with one of our forty therapists operating across London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. CBT is the recommended treatment for Social Anxiety and the research evidence shows that it works. To talk to one of our CBT experts about treatment for Social Anxiety, call 01732 808626 or email info@thinkcbt.com


What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is a fear of negative judgement and severe discomfort coping in social situations. Social anxiety affects men and women of all ages and often starts as feelings of shyness and social avoidance in childhood or adolescence. Social anxiety is a highly debilitating problem affecting up to 10% of the population and is often linked to other psychological problems including Depression, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Social Anxiety can be triggered by the need to interact with unfamiliar people, being in the spot-light or feeling scrutinized by others.  This can bring on feelings of physical discomfort, self-consciousness, negative judgment, shyness and feelings of inferiority.

In addition to negative or unhelpful thoughts about how other people are judging or negatively evaluating, social anxiety involves an internal focus of attention in which the sufferer becomes highly sensitive to internal physical feelings including racing heart, blushing, excessive sweating, dry throat and mouth, shaking and muscle twitches.


The Social Anxiety Cycle

Social anxiety is normally experienced in three main ways that can form a vicious cycle. This involves worrying about the social situation before it happens, becoming highly self-conscious during the social situation and ruminating about the social situation after it is over. The following model illustrates how the vicious cycle of social anxiety is maintained:




The social anxiety cycle can be activated in the following situations:

  • Being introduced to unfamiliar people.
  • Being questioned or criticized.
  • Being placed in the spot-light.
  • Being watched or scrutinized whilst performing a task.
  • Eating in public.
  • Having to sit or wait in a public place or social situation such as a group meeting or party.
  • Meeting people in authority.
  • Preparing for unfamiliar social encounters, presentations or social events.
  • Introducing one’s self in a circle or having to speak publically.
  • Forming new interpersonal relationships.

People experiencing Social Anxiety know that their fear is irrational; however this does not in itself reduce the physiological and emotional anxiety symptoms.

Social Anxiety sufferers tend to use a range of covert tactics or avoidance behaviours, in an attempt to hide or control their anxiety symptoms.  These can include; avoiding social gatherings, making excuses to exclude themselves from meetings or events, clearing their throat or complaining of a cold when talking, counting the number of people in a room or group, avoiding eye contact and sometimes overcompensating by interrupting or interjecting to avoid their turn in the spotlight.

Social anxiety has a life limiting effect.  The intense concerns about personal scrutiny cause the individual’s work and social life to gradually shrink as the intense fear of social judgement or evaluation increases. This can also have a negative effect on close relationships and career aspirations.

You can take a free and confidential Social Anxiety self-assessment by clicking on the following link: 

Take the Free Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia (DSM-5 Assessment)

Take the Free Social Anxiety Assessment - SPIN

How CBT is Used to Treat Social Anxiety

CBT has been shown to significantly reduce the impacts of social anxiety. Clients learn a range of cognitive and behavioural techniques to realistically evaluate their anxiety, develop improved personal resilience and shift their focus of attention back to fully engaging in the social or performance situation.

CBT for social anxiety usually involves work in five key areas covering cognitive change, Behavioural Exposure, Behavioural Experiments, focus of attention training and social skills practice. Each of these areas are briefly outlined below:

Cognitive Change; involves identifying and altering the negative thoughts that maintain distress in the three stages of preparing for a social situation, engaging in the social situation and evaluating the social situation after the situation is over. Clients are taught to catch, check, change or let go of negative thoughts that cause distress or interfere with social performance.

Focus of Attention Training involves learning how to shift focus from uncomfortable internal feelings to the social task or activity. This involves learning how to normalise bodily sensations and fully concentrate on the task in hand. 

Graded Exposure; involves planning and undertaking activities that are normally avoided. The client is encouraged to take small steps to normalise their anxiety without feeling overwhelmed or out of control.

Behavioural Experiments; are exercises in which beliefs about performance in social situations are predicted, tried out and evaluated. The client and therapist work together to test negative assumptions and strengthen coping beliefs.

Social Skills Practice; involves working in the room with the therapist to try out different scenarios and practice interactions in a safe and non-judgemental environment. Sometimes the therapist may suggest that the exercise is recorded or videoed to help with feedback and evaluation.

Depending on the needs of the client, the Cognitive Behavioural Therapist may also incorporate other CBT techniques including mindfulness skills, cognitive defusion, acceptance exercises and visualisation work to support the process.

To talk to a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist about CBT for Social Anxiety, complete the simple contact form and we will organise a free initial telephone consultation.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for social anxiety brings the same rigor, structure and focus to the problem that it provides for many other psychological, emotional and behavioural problems.  

Follow the evidence and take a positive step towards changing your situation.

Call us now on 01732 808 626, click here to send a message or email us at info@thinkcbt.com. You can also find out more about our services by clicking this link.

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