What happens in social anxiety?

A therapy session was progressing, when I noticed the next client Sumithra arrived 15 minutes before her session. I wondered how some clients really keep up their timings well. My current session ended and within a few seconds, the Sumithra entered my room. It was her first session with me. I knew that she was distressed in her life.

Sumithra began, “I don’t know why this is happening with me. I cannot go out with friends. I feel petrified especially when I am in malls and functions. I am fearful that something will happen to me. I have random thoughts like someone will judge me for my appearance, comment on my body or tease my talking style. I also sometimes think I will faint in the middle of a function hall and humiliate my family. I become extremely stressed out when I have to attend a social gathering or go out with friends. I cannot take it and I decide to cancel which gives me relief.”

Has Social Anxiety Affected only Me?

Sumithra sobbed and explained that all her cousins and friends were happy people. They led a normal, happy-go-lucky lifestyle. They went out for shopping, movies, conferences, solo travel and danced in every function. The running thoughts like she could faint, she could be judged or embarrassed pulled her back in enjoying a normal life. She felt there was no fun in her life.

I looked into her eyes and replied, “Oh! Looks like you really have a tough time with difficult thoughts crossing your mind before any social events. Maybe the same thoughts affect you when there is a meeting outside your office too? I can imagine that you get stressed to cope up with that. I am here for you. Let’s handle this together.

I want to ask you if your cousins or friends have come and told you that they were nervous during their college presentations. Or during a performance in their colleges or dance classes? I think they would have been anxious. I am pretty sure, in their first solo travels too. Who will not be? Solo travel has a lot of risks, someone can mug you, threaten you or rob your valuables. Feeling uneasy about a new place or facing a whole lot of people is a natural behaviour in human beings. We do anticipate negative aspects.

But it seems to me like, anxiety has started to make your life more limited and unfulfilling. I can see that anxiety is getting in the way of leading a more joyful, fulfilled life.”

How do we tackle Social Anxiety now?

Sumithra recalled that she indeed remembered her cousin talking about how tensed he was when he had to pitch his startup idea to investors. In fact, he had had a terrible first experience that he almost thought he would not want to pitch again. But his motivation to take his company to newer heights pushed him for further pitching events. She wanted to know how she could get equally motivated like him. 

I said, “Listen Sumithra, you have taken the first step to meet a Therapist. This clearly shows that you have an internal motivation to improve your life. You certainly want to handle yourself better and go out like a normal person. As a professional who deals with anxiety issues on a daily basis, I can definitely help you in improving your condition. You can always discuss your worries with me.

Let me explain how we can start addressing your problem connected to social anxiety. I will send you a questionnaire that covers several aspects of your life. Once you fill that, I will present a detailed evaluation of your case. This will help us figure out an effective plan to work on you.

I can tell you, in every session, you learn something new. Let’s say, the next therapy session you understand a few points on the aspects of your mind works when you tell me about your recent episode of anxiety. We will also learn certain tools to help you deal with a similar situation. As your therapy continues, you would have learned and practised the different tools and techniques from process-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approaches called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

I can see that your face is lighting up listening to me talk. CBT and ACT have strong scientific evidence-based research to prove me right. I can give you many examples from my own experience where therapy has helped people take actions through their difficult times.”  

What changes can you see after Social Anxiety Therapy sessions?

Sumithra questioned me with a relaxed tone. She wanted to know the changes that she could expect after therapy sessions.

I answered, “I really appreciate your question. Let me tell you, in the therapy sessions you will learn to be aware of yourself, you will learn to handle difficult thoughts and feelings more affectively, you will learn to distance unwanted thoughts from your mind, you will learn to deal with difficult feelings, you will learn to relax your body and mind. With so many things accompanying you as tools, you can expect wonderful changes in your life.

You start to feel free before heading to a meeting outside the office, you start to give importance to feelings that matter to you most. For example, dancing and mingling with cousins will become your priority rather than your social anxiety. This makes way for a lot of happiness and fun in your life. Your worry on missing out the fun-part will reduce to a greater extent.”

I feel a little sceptical about therapy working on my Social Anxiety

Doubt crept in Sumithra’s mind. She openly questioned the probability of therapy sessions not working for her. She also made a statement that social anxiety has made her sceptical about everything.

I told her, “Today is the first day of our meeting where we are discussing your troubles. From the next session, your therapy will begin. An important reason why therapy works on people with anxiety is that it has experiential exercises. They take you through your tough moments and make you apply the tools while you are sitting in front of me.

You can speak about the effectiveness of the therapy in next session. Till then, it is your faith and commitment that should matter to both of us. If you want, you can watch a couple of YouTube videos of how this works. You will have a fair idea of how helpful my sessions can get for you.”

What if Social Anxiety Treatment is Expensive?

Sumithra lightheartedly asked me she had to burn her savings to get therapy for her social anxiety issues. 

I winked and said, “Well you can definitely afford from your monthly salary without touching your savings. My fees are the same as any therapist in this city. The new Sumithra after the therapy sessions will be much more valuable to you than the money you spend on my fees.”

I am getting many questions. Can’t stop thinking!

I asked Sumithra if she had anything else to discuss. My next client could come anytime. She quickly noted my email ID – contact@awaremh.com and phone number – +918660388394 to get in touch for more information.

She shook my hands with a heave of relief and asked me if I could take online sessions while she was away. I nodded my head and bid her adieu.

Get in Touch

Call at +91 86603 88394 and we can set up a consultation.

If you would like to schedule an appointment instead, please click here:

Get in Touch

Call at +91 86603 88394 and we can set up a consultation.
If you would like to schedule an appointment instead, please click here: