How to help someone with social phobia: 6 tips for help

Social phobia is a more common anxiety disorder than we might imagine, Although the intensity in which this occurs is usually varied.

There are cases in which people with this psychological disorder manage to mask the discomfort that causes them, while in the more intense cases the limitation becomes very obvious.

In this article let’s go over some effective tips and strategies on how to help someone with social phobia in support of psychotherapeutic care, in order to gradually overcome irrational fear (phobia) towards others, especially when it comes to large groups.

    What is social phobia?

    To know how to help someone with social phobia, you first need to understand what the disorder is. Social phobia is the irrational and intense fear that people feel about any situation related to social contact; the feeling of discomfort becomes more intense in direct relation to the number of people with whom one has to interact and the degree of ignorance of these people.

    Like vimoss above some people are able to mask this fear, but this does not prevent it from significantly affecting the subject’s quality of life. This only indicates that the intensity of the social phobia is lower than in other cases, where it is not possible to mask the anxiety represented by having to interact with others.

    It is important to clarify the difference between social phobia disorder and shyness, because on the surface they can appear to be the same. Basically the difference is in the intensity of the anxiety and the thinking style of people. Shyness is nothing more than a personality trait which occurs occasionally. Simply put, the triggers for shyness are expressed in specific circumstances where it is necessary to interact with others in person and in real time.

    Social phobia, on the other hand, is very intense and deeply irrational, that is, there is no logical trigger that generates the fear that the subject experiences with regard to interacting with them. other people; it is an image of anxiety centered on interpersonal interactions, which it manifests itself constantly and intensely in the daily life of the subject, Harming your quality of life even when no one is around (for example, avoiding going shopping so that you don’t have to talk to the store owner).

    How to help people with social phobia?

    Now let’s see a list of tips focused on supporting and helping people with social phobia.

    1. Support therapy

    For the good treatment of phobias it is better to accompany the person to therapy with psychologists. The behavioral professional will be able to properly assess the subject and determine what are the possible causes of the social phobia.

    It is important to keep in mind that each patient is unique, and one cannot claim to be based exactly on the reality of some cases to help others. This is why it is better to undergo therapy, to have a clearer picture. The advice we will see is to help and support people who go to therapy for their social phobia problems, but this first step is essential, and no unprofessional support can replace it.

      2. Help him rethink his thoughts

      The second step in getting a person to stop feeling a lot of anxiety in complex social situations is to encourage them to adopt other thoughts associated with interacting with others. Social phobia is intrinsically associated with a catastrophic (anxious) thinking style, in which he imagines that everything will be very bad if he communicates with others.

      It is necessary to show the subject that contact with other people should not end badly, but can even be a rewarding experience for all parties involved, provided it is an interaction within the norms social respect.

      On the other hand, it should also help to put into perspective the importance of rejection (or approval) by others. This way will accept the idea of ​​not always making a very good impressionSo keep in mind that the latter is impossible for anyone.

      3. Facilitate the adoption of social tools

      Social skills can be learned, and in cases of social phobia, it is necessary to implement a didactic teaching method through which subjects can clearly understand how socialization works not only from theory, but also of practice. To do this, you can support people with social phobia and create situations in which you can identify with more or less known people, So that this task is not done too much uphill. Of course, always with the consent of those who suffer from this anxiety disorder.

      4. Help set goals

      Overcoming social phobia goes through a step-by-step process, where the person will gradually overcome certain goals. This will not only help you gain confidence and security, but will also give you practice and implicit knowledge of how a normal conversation develops.

      Of course, these objectives must be oriented towards sociability with others, and must be concrete and short-term, So that they have the ability to motivate. For example, a good idea is to set an initial goal of starting a daily conversation for a week, so that over time this behavior becomes normal. In any case, this should always be done in coordination with the psychologist who performs the psychotherapy sessions, so that both processes (inside and outside the consultation) run at the same pace.

      5. Exposure to crowded environments

      An effective way to combat any type of phobia is making controlled exposures to what causes discomfort. In the case of social phobia, the procedure involves accompanying the person to social events where they have to experience how others speak to each other in public and interact with each other. Again, this should be discussed with the person leading the psychotherapy sessions beforehand.

      6. Don’t encourage yourself to be impatient with the results.

      Each person has their own pace of development, and it is not good to try to speed up the progress of people in reaching a goal., Especially in cases of anxiety or social phobia.

      If the person notices that there is pressure from us to see immediate results, they will start to feel more anxious about it and will want to stop engaging in therapy and our approach to psychological support to help them. . In any case, it is important to be clear that this is a trip whose most spectacular results will be noticed in the medium and long term, that is to say on a time scale of several month.

      Of course, it’s best to focus on simple, short-term goals., For example, complete an agreed therapeutic challenge for that weekend; Initially, when social phobia is just beginning to be combated, the satisfaction of overcoming it can be the motivator that replaces the fact that you realize that you are a completely autonomous person in terms of social interactions (a experience which will be given later, in the later stages of therapy).

      Bibliographical references:

      • Bravo, MA and Padrós, F. (2013). Explanatory models of social phobia: a cognitive-behavioral approach. Uaricha, 11 (24), 134-147.
      • Hermans, D. Vantseenwegen, D. and Craske, MG (2008). Fears and phobias: debates, future research and clinical implications. In MG Craske, Sr. Hermans and Vansteenwegen (Eds.), Fears and Phobias: From Basic Processes to Clinical Implications (pp. 257-264). Mexico: Modern Manual.
      • Morissette, SB, Tull, MT, Gulliver, SB, Kamholz, BW, Zimering RT (2007). Anxiety, anxiety disorders, smoking and nicotine: a critical examination of the interrelationships. Psychological bulletin. 133 (2): pages 245 to 272.
      • Rapee, RM, Heimberg RG (1997). A cognitive-behavioral model of anxiety in social phobia. Behavioral Research and Therapy, 35 (8): pages 741-756.

      Leave a Comment