What is the psychological treatment for social phobia?

We are all likely to feel more or less shy in social situations. Especially those who are prone to shyness, will experience times that can generate a commitment in which it is time to relate to others, but there are more extreme cases.

Let’s see what it is and what is the treatment for social phobia, Which has to do with the intense fear of social interactions.

The keys to understanding what social phobia is

Social phobia is linked to an intense and disproportionate anxiety response to social situations, Which can cause anxiety attacks and lead to low self-esteem, depressed mood and avoiding social situations. Over time, this can lead to severe declines and limitations in daily life.

However, the person with social phobia knows that their fear is disproportionate. he can’t help but get carried away by fear even knowing it’s irrational.

Like any phobia, the physiological response to anxiety is so strong that at first it is expensive to deal with dreaded social situations without running away, even when thinking is adjusted and it is a matter of rationalizing.


These are the main symptoms of social phobia, to be taken into account in their psychological treatment.

physical symptoms

The physical symptoms of social phobia are basically the symptoms of the anxiety attack, and appear in the dreaded situation and even come to think of it:

  • tachycardia.
  • Hyperventilation.
  • Stuttering or difficulty speaking.
  • Cold sweats and usually on the hands.
  • tremors.
  • To blush.
  • Muscle tension, nausea, etc.

cognitive symptoms

Thoughts related to fear of being disqualified, disliking or feeling humiliated, which denote low self-esteem, predominate:

  • Personalization Distortions: Believing that everything other people think is negative and concerns you.
  • Distortion of divinatory thought, Type in: “I’m sure if I go to the party, they’ll reject me”, “I’m sure I’ll turn red”, “I’m sure I’ll stutter and they’ll ‘laugh at me”.
  • Distortion of the thought when reading the thought: “they don’t want me to go”, “they think I’m boring”, “I’m sure you think I’m fatally dressed”.
  • Generalization distortion: “if I fail an exam it’s because I’m doing everything wrong”, “if I have few friends it means I’m a bad friend”.
  • catastrophic thoughts and extremely negative.

behavioral symptoms

Faced with this intense fear of relating to others, the person with a social phobia presents tendency to avoid social situations how to request information, ask in public, participate in conversations, go to meetings, etc.

Avoidance will be greater the less control you have over the situation. Thus, the avoidance will be all the greater the more people there are in a social gathering.

However, the person with social phobia may have strong anxiety in a group of two or three people. it will be much more intense the bigger the group will beHe will therefore always try to relate to a person by seeing him as more controllable and less risky.

    What is the treatment for social phobia?

    In therapy, it is common to treat people with social phobia. These days, social and virtual networks make it easier to avoid relationships, so that they can live a long life without facing their fear.

    Suffering is high and frustration, low self-esteem, sadness and feelings of hopelessness are some of the emotional symptoms they suffer from. For our team of psychologists, these are the symptoms to be treated the most urgently, in addition to the gradual exposure to social situations in the most controlled way possible, so that social relationships are seen as safe spaces.

    The treatment of cognitive behavioral psychology has been shown to be very positive and effective, As well as third generation acceptance and engagement therapies.

    During treatment, special importance is given to how interaction with others is interpreted, Learn to adjust your thinking when it is very negative. It is very important to recognize cognitive distortions that cause feelings of shame or intense fear that lead to avoidance, to learn to think tightly and realistically.

    Investigating the causes is also part of the therapy, so it is important to de-trauma old situations that still weigh heavily in order to unblock emotionally.

    It is essential to restore self-esteem and confidence, strengthen the patient’s capacities while providing training in progressive exposure to social situations, Unhurried and less and more level of adaptation. With all of this, one seeks to improve the mood as successes are achieved and self-perception improves.

    Work on social skills is also essential; relativize the opinion of others and not give them so much power; lose fear of conflict by learning to get angry and to express opinions, rights or needs confidently; be aware that we cannot meet all the expectations of others to be loved and learn not to take responsibility for everything lest they get angry with us or judge us.

    the causes

    Social phobia it usually originates in more or less traumatic situations, usually occurring at an early stage, Especially in adolescence, and in relation to social situations experienced as unpleasant or humiliating.

    A bad classroom experience speaking in public, feeling that others laugh every time they speak, being wrong in front of others, feeling judged or criticized … are some examples of possible triggers for social phobia. .

    Added to this is a certain susceptibility to the fear of criticism, of being judged, the fear of conflict., An excessive need for approval and a need to be good and a tendency to internal attributions or to feel responsible for everything.

    It may also be influenced by having grown up in family environments where personal disqualification has been abused without promoting good self-esteem or, in turn, social relationships have barely developed due to overprotection.

    Social phobia usually occurs at an early age (Kendler et al, 1992) and the onset of other possible disorders usually follows the development of this disorder; This is why at Avanç Psychologues we are aware that its early detection and treatment are essential.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Cervera Enguix, S., Roca Bennasar, M., Bobes García, J. (1999). Social phobia. Barcelona: Masson.
    • DSM V. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
    • Olivares Rodríguez. J., Alcàsser, AIR and García, LJ (2004). Social phobia in adolescence: the fear of being in a relationship and acting in front of others. Madrid: solar eyes.

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