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How Do I Get Over Social Anxiety?

answered 04:22 PM EST, Thu October 20, 2011
I am a successful founder of an internet startup (my profile here is "fake" sorry). I have been struggling with social anxiety. One of the many paranoias I live with daily is that everyone can tell I am uncomfortable. I guess you can call it a vicious cycle. I am behaving a lot more reserved (and sometimes hostile) towards people than is good for me. I particularly despise groups and their dynamics. (I can't even tell you why I feel that way.. I had loving parents and benefited from a great upbringing).

A close friend of mine has suggested I try Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT). Apparently ACT really helps with keeping anxieties in check over a long-term, but I do wonder whether a counselor can overcome the threshold of my mental defenses (I have a good BS detector). Isn't Cognitive Behavioral Therapy just another form of manipulation? Maybe I just don't like people and should learn to live with it, just improve my social skills (to better conceal my dislike of people). What do you suggest, will ACT change me and make me more sociable or can I achieve similar results by getting a simple job at Starbucks to learn better social skills?

William Anderson Says...

It sounds like you may have studied more psychology than is good for you and not enough to have the whole picture. You need to stop trying to be your own doctor.

It's good to have a BS detector, but some great therapeutic techniques sound like BS until you've found that they work really well. I use traditional CBT in my practice and it has worked miracles for clients with all types of anxiety and mood problems. I think CBT is one of the most important and effective developments in life and emotions management, ever. It is not manipulation. I've read a bit about ACT, but I have no interest in reading further. It doesn't sound like CBT to me and it sounds like a lot of other ideas that have not worked well for my clients with mood and emotion problems. That's a highly personal evaluation of this experienced old therapist, and I'm sure you'll find others who think it's great.

I know you can experience wonderful relief from your discomfort with this problem. It is very common, and it is highly treatable. Doctors and therapists who treat these kinds of things help lots of people with it all the time and get good results. We see it every day. It is routine to be able to solve this with the right help.

I'd recommend that you make an appointment with a Licensed Therapist (LMHC,LCSW, Licensed Psychologist or Psychiatrist) who specializes in Anxiety Disorders and CBT. Try one. You can always try a different one if it doesn't feel right. After they get a better idea of what's happening, they may recommend a medication. Oftentimes, there is a physical basis for these symptoms you describe, and you may have to use both avenues of approach.

I hope you make an appointment asap. It would be a shame to continue to struggle with this when you could be feeling better in a matter of weeks.

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Page last updated Oct 21, 2011

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