Social Anxiety and counselling

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety can be a crippling condition for those who experience it.

Can you imagine what it’s like to try and anticipate every social interaction you have, from the person you walk past in the street, to the man on the bus sitting next to you, to the woman in the shop. Not only are you anticipating what they might say but also what they think of you and what you could say to make them think differently and what they might then do and how you will look and what will they think of your voice and ….. breathe


The thoughts have got out of control. It’s as though they have taken on a life of their own. You don’t want to be like this, but you are trapped.

Suffers may find it’s different groups of people or situations that trigger the anxiety and the thoughts. Having to give a presentation or a big meeting at work.

But it can just as easily be a casual invitation to a pub for a night out with friends.

Social interactions

If you are friends with someone who is suffering this, you may not realise just how hard it might be for them. They want to be with you, but sometimes their thoughts stop that happening. They want to have fun and relax in your company, but it isn’t always possible. If it feels sometimes like they aren’t being the friend you want, please don’t assume you don’t mean much to them. It might be because you mean so much, that your opinion is so valued that they worry about letting you down.

It can be really hard to get to know someone with social anxiety as they may be so busy trying to be who you want them to be that who they are gets lost. Or their thoughts will stop them being able to show you who they really are as they might be telling them how uninteresting and boring they are compared to you.

How to improve social anxiety

The thing is things can improve, the horrible irony is that it may mean doing the thing that they find most difficult which is engaging with someone new. Those first steps to contact a counsellor might be agonising.

And make no mistake, counselling can help. It’s not a magic bullet, it’s not going to wash all the problems away. But the experience of giving voice to anxiety with (hopefully) a therapist who is empathic, congruent and non-judgemental can help ease them. Being accepted, having your anxiety accepted is a good place to start finding ways to reduce it.

If you want to contact me but are finding it difficult to take that first step, just use the contact form or click the email button and mention social anxiety. I will understand how hard that has been for you and will get back to you as soon as possible.


Social Anxiety

This article has some interesting points on social anxiety. I’m particularly pleased to see mention of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as I recently underwent some training on this. 

Even though I am a person centred counsellor and ACT is a variant of CBT I found some elements of the training really useful.

Firstly, as the article say The fundamental premise of ACT, then, is that you don’t try to squash your feelings but are able to notice and accept them while committing yourself to a pathway toward change.” Acceptance of ones feelings is very compatible with the Person Centred Approach (PCA). The more aware we are of them the more we can accept them and ACT has a strong element of mindfulness and self-awareness. 

The other part of the training I had that I found very useful was to focus on what our values are. For each of us as individuals, we have the values we are expected to have but don’t always focus on what is truly most important to us. For an individual with social anxiety, they may realise that it isn’t interfering in what they hold most dear, only with what they think they “should” hold most dear. 

Noticing our true feelings and accepting them can be hard, yet it can also be liberating if we can avoid the “should’s” that we tend to carry with us.