Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most commonly used form of treatment for social anxiety disorder, and its effectiveness is evidence-based. According to the cognitive model put forward by Clark and Wells in this context; One of the most important factors underlying the insecurity of individuals with social phobia is some distorted, dysfunctional beliefs and thoughts such as seeing themselves as boring, inadequate and worthless.
In addition, individuals with social phobia have high standards and rules about how to behave in a social environment. For example, the person with social anxiety may say, “Everyone should like me, I must always look perfect, I must always speak flawlessly and impressively.” thinks as. These high standards and strict rules that it sets cause the person to make negative assumptions about any environment and to perceive any social interaction as unsafe.
Undoubtedly, the negative and distorted thoughts that a person sets about himself and others, as well as the high standards and inflexible rules he sets about what he should do in a social environment, leave the person with a high level of anxiety in social environments.
What is the way to enable the individual to cope with anxiety?
In order to reduce his anxiety and feel safe, the person with social phobia starts to behave differently or avoid the environment completely when he thinks that it will be a threat to him, and these two behavior patterns become his defense mechanism. However, the behaviors that the person does to feel safe or avoiding social environments completely prevents the person from seeing that the event that he has made disaster in his mind is not actually real.
However, the person never realizes the fact that he can manage his anxiety. Consider a person with social phobia who avoids giving presentations altogether. Because he avoids it completely, he fails to see how gifted he really is with public speaking, and more importantly, learns that he is much less critical than the audience thinks. He also ignores the fact that how well he can actually cope with a mistake he made during the presentation. In other words, the person cannot gather enough information about the scenario he has created in his mind and cannot know what will happen in reality, which increases his anxiety more contrary to what is thought.
For this reason, the main purpose of cognitive behavioral therapy is; It is to help the person gain a more realistic view of their dysfunctional beliefs and assumptions. Another and one of the most important treatment goals is to enable the individual with social phobia to change their coping strategies with anxiety.
It is to teach the person that our thoughts, feelings and behaviors are in a consistent relationship with each other, and as a result, to make one area more functional will automatically affect other areas. As the person’s distorted thoughts decrease, the avoidance of social environments decreases. As the person is more active in social environments, he has the chance to gather information about the thoughts he has created in a healthier way.
If your fear and anxiety towards social environments is at an unmanageable level and the functionality of important areas in your life has begun to deteriorate, I recommend that you do not hesitate to seek professional support to regain control.