By: Natasha Cooke, MS
Supervised by Melissa Barton, LPC-S
What is Social Anxiety?
Is meeting new people your worst fear? Do you tremor or suffer from anxiety when faced with social situations? You may be suffering from social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder is determined by meeting several criteria from the DSM-5 TR (one of the main mental disorder categorization systems). Some criteria include fear or anxiety in social situations in which one is exposed to possible scrutiny or feels negatively evaluated by others. Additionally, social situations nearly always provoke fear. The person in question avoids social situations due to fear, and one or more areas of the person’s life are significantly impaired.
How Do I know if I Have Social Anxiety?
How will you know if you have social anxiety disorder? You will meet all the criteria for the disorder and likely be diagnosed by a mental health practitioner.
So, what’s not social anxiety disorder? Feeling a bit or moderately uncomfy when you meet new people, forgetting people’s names immediately after hearing them for the first time, or being an introvert is not cause for alarm, nor do they indicate social anxiety disorder is present. It’s natural for individuals to feel a bit nervous when they meet someone new or attempt to make a new friend. Even if you do have social anxiety, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have social anxiety disorder! So that’s the good news.
Social Anxiety and Making Friends
Now that we know the difference between having some occasional social anxiety and having social anxiety disorder, what’s next? Is it possible to make new friends? Absolutely. It may be a bit tough, but here are some general ideas on how you can make friends.
Mental health therapy is a wonderful tool for navigating social anxiety, whether you have a diagnosis or not. A common type of therapy that is helpful for social anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Therapists that use CBT with their clients help them work through irrational thoughts and gain insight into thought patterns. In addition, if your therapist uses CBT, they may use techniques such as role-playing to help guide you through social anxiety.
What is the best way to get good at something, even making friends? Practice! Role-playing in therapy is a tool or strategy that therapists use to help clients become desensitized to situations, confrontations, or even prepare for job interviews. Role-playing helps clients by practicing an “attempt at making a new friend” scenario. It might sound silly, but thankfully, therapists are not here to judge. They won’t make you feel silly or embarrassed and genuinely want you to succeed. In other words, in therapy, you will role-play likely situations in a place where you feel safe and comfortable. From there, you take steps to utilize your new skills in real life.
Confidence and Self-Esteem Building
Maybe role-playing doesn’t feel like enough to help you navigate your anxiety through social situations. So, what else can you do? Building your confidence and self-esteem is certainly the way to go, and you can also look to therapy to help with this! One way to build confidence is to make a list of things you are good at. Be proud of the talents that you have, no matter how large or small. Utilize positive self-talk and hype yourself up about these skills as often as possible! Spend time with like-minded people that also offer positivity. Some ways to build self-esteem are being kind to yourself, learning to say “no,” becoming more assertive, building positive relationships, detaching yourself from people that tear you down, and journaling.
Overall, nearly everyone deals with some social anxiety at one point or another. If you happen to be someone who deals with it constantly or maybe even has social anxiety disorder, you are not alone. Remember that getting a formal diagnosis may be helpful for severe cases. Other helpful tools are seeking counseling, learning skills for making friends, building confidence, and increasing self-esteem. While it may seem impossible now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can acquire the skills and tools needed to make friends and manage social anxiety. And no, you don’t have to become an extrovert either! You’ve got this!
Begin Counseling for Social Anxiety in Katy, TX!
If you are ready to feel like your best self, one of the therapists at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch can help! We provide mental health counseling, as well as other mental health services. To begin counseling in Katy, TX follow these three steps:
- Contact our office to set up an appointment or to get more information about counseling for social anxiety
- Meet with one of our caring therapists
- Find ways to overcome social anxiety and live your true authentic self!
Other Therapy Services We Offer:
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch, we offer counseling services for people of all ages in areas including counseling for kids, counseling for young adults, teen counseling, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, men’s issues, women’s issues, anxiety treatment, depression therapy, trauma counseling, family therapy, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to post blogs regularly. We provide helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and our counseling services, please reach out to the Counseling Center today!