Social anxiety is a common problem that, according to Anxiety Care UK, affects somewhere in the region of 40% of the UK population. Social anxiety has many different clinical definitions such as social phobia and social anxiety disorder, and may be consistent with other conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder, avoidant personality disorder, or schizoid personality disorder.
Rest assured however that at The Bristol Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy Clinic your symptoms aren’t viewed as ‘disorders’, nor are they signs of ‘irrationality’. If you seen my Sequential Psychotherapy website you'll know that the problem with labelling symptoms as disorders is that it gives them as sense of permanence when in fact many symptoms are perfectly treatable and respond well to the appropriate treatment. Rather than being character flaws or signs of weakness, many symptoms are simply adaptive responses resulting from early learning experiences.
"Rather than being character flaws or signs of weakness, many symptoms are simply adaptive responses resulting from early learning experiences."
Social Anxiety is often unhelpfully thought of as simple ‘shyness’, when in fact it is more distressing and debilitating than that. Social anxiety tends to be experienced in a visceral, bodily way, as if you have no control over your body’s reaction to certain social situations. It can manifest as a dread of attending social events, discomfort with being in public, a strong resistance to group activities, or a sense that you don't fit in. When you experience social anxiety you tend to experience yourself as inferior to others, or sense that other people are judging or criticising you in a harsh and unforgiving manner. You may experience strong self-criticism, intense self-consciousness, or feel hypersensitive to your environment. When you have social anxiety you tend to be hypersensitive of, and reactive to, perceived criticism or insults from others.
"When you experience social anxiety you tend to experience yourself as inferior to others, or sense that other people are judging or criticising you in a harsh and unforgiving manner."
Social Anxiety can manifest in more subtle ways however, such as being perfectionistic or preoccupied with your dress or appearance, difficulty sharing or expressing your feelings and needs, or a strong tendency towards people-pleasing (looking for approval from others or doing things you don’t necessarily want to do in order to avoid confrontation). Social anxiety can manifest in many different ways for different people.
For these reasons social anxiety is often a painfully crippling experience in which you feel intense discomfort around social situations and interpersonal interactions. Any attempts to just 'snap out of it' tend to feel fake and are thus short-lived. Social anxiety tends to be comorbid (i.e coupled) with low self-esteem, a negative or poor self-evaluation or low opinion of yourself and your capabilities. Together, social anxiety and low self-esteem are often major contributing factors to a vast number of symptoms and problems that people ask for my help with. Such as:
Social anxiety has many possible causes and may be an indication of an insecure attachment style. An attachment style is a pattern of learned self-protective behaviours that develop early in life in response to environmental cues (such as your relationship with your parents, teachers, and other family members etc.) Individual’s with self-reported or clinically diagnosed Anxious/Preoccupied, Dismissive/Avoidant, or Fearful/Avoidant attachment styles tend to experience strong feelings of distress or even panic in response to social situations and interpersonal relationships.
Having worked with hundreds of social anxiety sufferers and people whose fear of 'looking bad' or 'making a fool of themselves' literally prevents them from doing things and getting the most out of life, I can safely say that social anxiety is not only a common and distressing problem, it's also a problem that often goes untreated because sufferers tend to blame themselves for being 'weak' or 'defective'. Nothing could be further from the truth and I'd be delighted to help you not only understand, but more importantly, overcome your social anxiety.
Whether you're wondering if hypnotherapy will help or you're looking for some CBT, or you're simply unsure of what help you need and would like some professional guidance, rest assured that the symptoms of social anxiety can be successfully resolved when the right treatment approach is used for you.
You are warmly invited to join me at The Bristol Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy Clinic or online via Skype for a FREE initial consultation in which we can discuss your situation in privacy and comfort. I understand that when you have social anxiety it can be very daunting to get help, even turning up for a free and friendly chat can be an anxiety-arousing ordeal! Allow me to reassure you then that I have a relaxed non-judgemental approach to all of my clients and aim to make your experience as comfortable, pleasant, and rewarding as possible. The lady below got in touch because her social anxiety had escalated to the point that she was having panic attacks on public transport:
I have just completed my sessions with Seb for anxiety and panic attacks. I have suffered for years and could not see the light and I thought this was something I had to live with...untill I met Seb. I thought I was alone and there was no solution to my sadness but there is. I am proud of getting help and I would encourage anyone suffering to take the step to happiness. It is not a scary thing getting therapy, it is the most calm I have felt in a long time. I'm a happy driven person again and I would recommend anyone suffering to see Seb. I am glad I did :-)
M.H. - Anxiety & Panic