Social Phobia/Social Anxiety

What is Social Phobia/Social Anxiety?


Social anxiety is also referred to as social phobia. Social phobia is an overwhelming fear of social situations. Social phobia is more than shyness, it impacts upon our daily activities.


When we experience social phobia, we may feel a sense of dread when meeting strangers (or familiar people) whether face to face, or over the telephone. There are some common thinking traps we fall into with social phobia, these concern:

  • Predicting others perception of us (fear of criticism or rejection)
  • Predict that we are showing symptoms of how we are feeling in front of others e.g. blushing, stuttering, sweating (it can feel almost like we have a light up sign above our heads pointing to us stating what we are experiencing)
  • Believing we are weak or unable to cope
  • Self-critical thoughts about ourselves (often low self esteem occurs alongside social phobia)

Due to the overwhelming anxiety experienced with social phobia, we may take the following actions:

  • Change body language/tone
  • Minimise eye contact
  • Employ strategies to stay hidden e.g. wearing sunglasses or a hat/hood
  • Use of strategies to conceal symptoms from being noticeable e.g. with shaking pick the cup of water up in a certain way to minimise shaking 
  • Avoid certain activities e.g. social outings, giving a presentation at work

Impact on Functioning


As with all mental health conditions, for some people the condition impacts many areas of their lives and this is evident, this is something we can see, for example the impact can be on our:

  • Relationships
  • Routine daily activities
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Work/education
  • Social life

However, for some people we cannot evidently see their difficulties, they may be attending work, engaging socially, continuing their usual activities. In clinic we use a metaphor of a duck swimming on a pond. We can seem to be moving without effort, gliding through life, just like the duck on the water. However, while we may appear fine on appearance, we can be paddling very hard underwater, struggling where people cannot see. No matter the visible impact upon your daily functioning, we are here to support you to overcome the current difficulties you are experiencing.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy


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