Understanding Social Anxiety In Your Clients

Understanding Social Anxiety In Your Clients

At one time or another, almost all people have experienced social anxiety-- that fear or tension felt when placed in situations which require interacting with others.  In this post, we will go over how to recognize the signs and symptoms of intense social anxiety in your clients, and the best approaches to therapy.


Medical Disclaimer

This post is unable to give you the kind of specific, concrete advice that your medical provider can.  Always consult your physician or therapist for medical advice.  Do not stop taking your prescribed medications without consulting your doctor.


Symptoms of Social Anxiety

This phobia is marked as an intense fear when the patient is confronted with meetings, parties, giving presentations, or other public places.  While most people are nervous to speak in public, it becomes a phobia when these situations can lead to panic attacks and a disruption to daily life.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Blushing
  • Nausea
  • Rapid pulse and/or breathing
  • Mind "going blank"
  • Obsessive thoughts or fears about others' judgment

It should be noted that this is different than being an "introvert", or someone who prefers isolation and solitude.  While the outwork observer may see the two as related, an introvert typically does not suffer from the same sort of intense anxiety.


Coping Tools to Teach Your Clients

Very high anxiety can lead to panic attacks, which can in turn lead to phobias of public places, or whatever caused the panic attack to occur.  The following are some simple tools which may help clients to better cope when faced with such anxiety:

  • "Square Breathing" -- see this post-- as well as other "grounding" techniques.
  • Confide in loved ones about anxiety.
  • Start with small interactions before moving to larger social events.
  • Using "exposure therapy"-- that is, slowing exposing the client to social situations to raise anxiety levels over time, to build a tolerance, ultimately making the experiences non-anxiety-causing.

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