Essentially, social anxiety is one of the anxiety disorders characterized by persistent fear of being in a social environment. Fear of attending large gatherings, performing on a stage, and having difficulties attending social events are signs of social anxiety. To manage symptoms of social anxiety, psychotherapy is the preferred mode of treatment.
Particularly, it is important to understand in detail how social anxiety therapists help in dealing with social anxiety disorder. Let’s first understand who qualifies as a social anxiety therapist, followed by a description of when you approach one.
Who Is A Social Anxiety Therapist?
In totality, a social anxiety therapist is a trained mental health professional. They can have a diverse set of qualifications. Compared to other therapists, a social anxiety therapist is more experienced and better equipped to deal with issues of social anxiety. Let’s discuss the important characteristics of a social anxiety therapist.
Certifications And Licensing
As discussed above, a mental health professional is someone who is equipped to handle mental illness and other associated concerns. A therapist, also known as a talk therapist or a psychotherapist, has several years of education in the fields of psychiatry or psychology, followed by clinical training and practice. During this practice, some therapists opt to work and research more deeply about anxiety disorders and, specifically, social anxiety.
Therefore, a social anxiety therapist could be a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or psychiatric social worker, depending on their area of specialty and training. When approaching a therapist, ask about their certifications, experience, and area of specialty. Do not forget to look for appropriate state licensing for practice.
Expertise In Style Of Psychotherapy
Besides certification, with the advent of robust scientific exploration in the field of psychotherapy, several branches of psychotherapy have emerged. This means that within psychotherapy, specific types of psychotherapy exist that are designed to address specific mental health concerns. These include behavior therapies, exposure-based therapies, cognitive therapies, etc.
With respect to anxiety disorders and social anxiety specifically, psychotherapies involving working on the thought and the behavior have been found to be more effective. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are found to be effective in reducing fears and increasing interpersonal relationship skills.
How Does a Social Anxiety Therapist Help?
Obviously, a social anxiety therapist can help you work on reducing your anxiety and improve your overall mental well-being. However, there are associated benefits of approaching a social anxiety therapist that might be overlooked otherwise. Let’s discuss the benefits that can come with the help of a social anxiety therapist.
Improved Social Functioning
As known, a clear disadvantage of having social anxiety is reduced social interactions and difficulty in enjoying a robust social life. If you have social anxiety, you are more likely to have associated difficulty in your interpersonal skills that further increase your social anxiety. A social anxiety therapist can help you manage the fear and anxiety that you experience in social situations and help you handle them better.
Effective Communication Skills
Along with interpersonal skills, social anxiety can overwhelm you to the point of embarrassment and shame. Also, sometimes, the fear is so prominent that it becomes difficult to talk to others around you or notice their availability to be of help. A therapist can help you practice how to communicate about your anxiety better. Moreover, you can also learn to draw better social boundaries and communicate your discomfort in social situations so that your anxiety doesn’t increase further.
Better Conflict Resolution Skills
As noted, social anxiety wreaks havoc on a person’s ability to socialize and handle even the slightest stress associated with a social situation. This can create exceptionally high difficulties in managing differences of opinions or conflict in the workplace, family, etc. You will continue to struggle or lose out on important relations due to difficulty in expressing opinions because of social anxiety. A social anxiety therapist can walk you through such situations and help you be prepared to handle regular conflicts in your life so that you don’t have to compromise or continue struggling.
When Do You Need A Social Anxiety Therapist?
Contrary to popular understanding, most mental illnesses do not develop suddenly or over a day. In several cases, conditions such as social anxiety develop over a while, gradually increasing in intensity. This makes it tough to identify the signs until they start to disturb your daily lifestyle. And so, it is essential to spot the signs that you might develop or have social anxiety before it increases in intensity. Below is a list to look for signs of social anxiety:
- Thoughts of attending a social event fill you with fear, and you look for possible excuses to avoid it.
- You have difficulty in speaking around a large number of people or in front of a gathering.
- Difficult feelings make you overwhelmed and anxious when you are asked to speak publicly or be a part of a crowd, parties, gatherings, etc.
- You experience a racing heartbeat, gastric issues, difficulty in breathing and swallowing, sweaty palms, and chills when you are anxious or overwhelmed.
Where Do I Find a Social Anxiety Therapist?
All in all, locating the right therapist can be a challenging task. Finding a therapist locally can be difficult due to varying state laws, availability, and other logistical difficulties. Figuring out the right therapist without any leads will make the task seem challenging and difficult to achieve. Therefore, here are some of the ways that you can find the right social anxiety therapist near you:
- Online – The most convenient method is to reach out to mental health-based sites and pages available online and book a session directly. Some sites offer a range of therapists based on expertise, and you can select a social anxiety therapist from them.
- Private practice – A quick search or reaching out to a local directory can help you find all the practising psychotherapists around you. Feel free to reach out to them before scheduling a session to see if they match your criteria and comfort level.
- Medical settings – Another reliable way to find a social anxiety therapist is to reach out to a mental health clinic or a hospital with a psychiatry department. Not only can they guide you to find the right social anxiety therapist, but they can also offer different modalities of treatment along with therapy, such as pharmacotherapy, biofeedback, etc.
To put it briefly, a social anxiety therapist can help you improve social functioning, be more effective in communicating, and have enhanced conflict resolution skills. An ideal social anxiety therapist has certifications, training, and experience in dealing with social anxiety and other types of anxiety disorders. To find a social anxiety therapist, you reach out to the above-mentioned settings or connect to United We Care, which caters to a large network of healthcare providers.
 N. A. Alomari et al., “Social Anxiety Disorder: Associated Conditions and Therapeutic Approaches,” Cureus, vol. 14, no. 12, Dec. 2022, doi: https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.32687.
 Harvard Health Publishing, “Treating social anxiety disorder – Harvard Health,” Harvard Health, Mar. 2010. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/treating-social-anxiety-disorder