How Online Therapy Can Transform You with Social Anxiety?

Jun 20, 20245 min
Author's Profile picture
Mave
Clinical Psychologist
A women talking with a lady doctor and taking Online Therapy to get Help from Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Treatment: How Online Therapy Can Help You Reclaim Your Life

Social anxiety disorder is marked by an intense fear or worry about being negatively judged in social interactions.

This fear gets activated when one is in a situation where one is expected to either interact or perform, or is being observed. Social anxiety can be generalized - showing up across different types of social situations, or it can be specific, as is the case with fear of public speaking. 

Social anxiety can be managed with the right treatment. Medication can help ease uncomfortable physical symptoms, while psychotherapy can help the individual learn sustainable ways of coping. 

Mindfulness and relaxation work, guided visualisations, journaling and affirmations are also helpful tools for managing social anxiety, improve communication skills and build confidence in social situations. Online therapy, including both online sessions with a trained therapist and other forms of online therapeutic tools like VR stimulation and self-help plans, can be quite helpful in the management of social anxiety. 

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which social situations trigger feelings of anxiety. This may show up as intense worry about being negatively evaluated, wanting to avoid social interactions, and physical signs of discomfort including sweaty palms, racing heart rate, and blushing. 

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety shows up in both, the body and mind. Some common physical and emotional symptoms of social anxiety disorder include: 

  1. Sweating 
  2. Blushing 
  3. Tremors or quiver in the voice 
  4. Thoughts about being judged 
  5. Difficulty concentrating on the conversation or task at hand, and zoning out 

Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment

While both medication and psychotherapy can be used to treat social anxiety disorder, CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy remains the most effective treatment option.

CBT helps the individual catch the automatic negative thoughts and restructure them. It can also help the individual develop strategies to improve communication and build more confidence. 

In-person therapy, however, can be inaccessible for various reasons - availability of a suitable therapist, commute, affordability of fee. In cases of social anxiety, working intimately with a therapist may also feel daunting, at least initially.

Online therapy can solve for some of these concerns. For many individuals who feel anxious in social interactions, meeting someone behind the comfort of a screen can help them ease into the intimate relationship of therapy.

Additionally, there are also a lot of self-guided platforms that can offer modules one can go through on their own. This can again be a good starting point for someone who struggles with social anxiety. 

How Can Online Therapy Help With Social Anxiety?

Online therapy, however, comes with pros and cons. 

Some of the pros of online therapy are: 

  1. Convenience of being able to access therapy from wherever one is located
  2. Affordability - online therapy can cost less than in-person therapy
  3. Online therapy is as efficient as in-person therapy, providing the same commitment and quality 
  4. Online therapy can go beyond sessions with a therapist and include other tools such as self-therapy apps, guided mindfulness activities and VR/AR-based interventions

Some of the cons of online therapy include: 

  1. Online therapy lacks the intimacy of in-person sessions, and may lead to missing out on important non-verbal cues 
  2. It is not suitable for serious psychiatric conditions 
  3. Since online therapy relies on technology, there’s always a risk of technical glitches and data privacy concerns 
  4. Online therapy may not be suitable for clients who do not have privacy in their home 

For social anxiety in particular, online therapy can be helpful. Individuals with social anxiety disorder may find it easier to open up to a therapist online than in-person.

Additionally, online therapy also includes self-administered tools and activities that can act as a good warm-up for individuals with social anxiety disorder. 

Different Types of Therapy for Social Anxiety

Therapy can help you manage the symptoms of anxiety associated with social anxiety disorder.

It can also help you think about yourself and social interactions in a more useful way by challenging the negative thoughts that trigger anxiety.

If there are fears associated with social interactions, therapy can help you gain more insight into it and thus, have more control over how you feel. 

Several forms of therapy have been found to be useful for the management of social anxiety. These include: 

1.Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 

CBT helps the individual restructure automatic thoughts, biases and core beliefs that may be contributing to anxiety 

2.Hypnotherapy

When combined with other forms of treatment, hypnotherapy can be a useful tool to ease the symptoms of anxiety. Hypnotherapy helps the individual feel relaxed, making it easier to address difficult issues. 

3.Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Combining mindfulness and CBT can not only help reduce the symptoms of social anxiety but also improve self-esteem. 

What to Expect From Therapy for Social Anxiety 

Although therapeutic goals are often mutually discussed between a therapist and client, there are some common goals one can expect from therapy. In cases of social anxiety, therapy can help with:

  1. Management of the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety 
  2. Learning relaxation and mindfulness techniques that can improve one’s overall well-being 
  3. Healthy coping mechanisms and increased awareness of one’s emotional states 
  4. Improved confidence and communication skills 

Remember that therapy is a collaborative relationship in which the client has the responsibility of committing to the process, providing honest feedback about what’s working and not working, and allowing for the relationship to evolve with time. A therapist doesn’t offer advice, and is not solely responsible for setting goals. 

How Online Therapy Can Help You Overcome Social Anxiety?

Even though therapy is gaining acceptance and increasingly, the importance of mental health is being talked about in public forums, there is still a lot of stigma associated with therapy. 

For an individual with social anxiety disorder, this stigma can be particularly concerning, triggering worries about being judged for seeking therapy. 

This is where online therapy can be quite helpful. Advantages of online therapy for social anxiety include: 

  1. Since online therapy can be accessed from anywhere and provides more privacy in this manner, it can be particularly useful for those who are ambivalent about seeking therapy. 
  2. Online therapy can feel less daunting than meeting someone in person. Being able to stay in the comfort of one’s personal space can be soothing for someone struggling with social anxiety 
  3. Tools like role-play, guided visualizations and relaxation exercises can help the individual feel more prepared to step out and engage in social situations. 
  4. Online therapy can also be easier to access in times when urgent care is needed
  5. And last, online therapy can go beyond sessions and include other tools that help manage symptoms of anxiety and develop healthy coping mechanisms 

Conclusion

Social anxiety disorder is characterised by intense worry about being negatively evaluated in social settings. This anxiety can make seeking offline therapy more challenging. Online therapy can help an individual feel safe while providing the same efficacy as in-person sessions. Additionally, one can also access other self-help tools online that can help develop healthy coping mechanisms and ease symptoms of anxiety. 

Citations/References

Author's Profile picture
Mave
Clinical Psychologist
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