Overcoming social anxiety through group therapy


Worried about what others think? Feel tongue tied when you try to speak? Do you hold yourself back from career opportunities to avoid public speaking?

social anxiety

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You may have social anxiety. Social anxiety disorder is quite common – roughly 12% or 15 million Americans will experience social anxiety that impedes their typical functioning and goals within their lifetime. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and group CBT in particular, have been proven to be effective in treating social anxiety, helping individuals to better understand the nature of their fears and thoughts in social situations, and also to develop and strengthen social skills through hands-on practice and behavioral experiments.

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder is marked by intense anxiety and fear of social interactions, particularly the fear of judgment and scrutiny from others. Those with social anxiety not only fear negative evaluation from others, but also that others will see how nervous and anxious they are. As a result, such individuals typically avoid social interactions or engage in other safety behaviors, such as speaking softly, avoiding eye contact, or pre-planning questions and conversations.

group therapy

Image credit: Berger & Wyse

How does group CBT help social anxiety?

It may sound counter-intuitive to join group therapy if you deal with social anxiety. However, it is this group setting that contributes to the effectiveness and lasting results of treatment. Group therapy provides the opportunity to meet, interact, and relate to others with similar experiences. The social interactions that are built into the structure of the group provide ample opportunities to act out behavioral experiments, test out beliefs, and share constructive feedback in real-time.

Group sessions will be structured in a way that encourages participation from all members. Topics covered will include:

  • Changing perceptions and learning to identify the thoughts that contribute to your social anxiety

  • Mindfulness practice to help develop awareness of your distressing thoughts and turn your focus back to the present moment

  • Assertiveness and problem-solving skills to bounce back when social situations don’t go as intended

  • Experiments to test the skills learned in session and practice new behaviors in your daily life

Is group therapy right for me? What are the advantages of CBT groups for social anxiety?

  • Less expensive than individual treatment
  • Opportunity to identify with others who share similar experiences and problems and feel less alone
  • Provide support and be supported by others, which tends to feel good and help one another make more rapid progress 
  • Collaborate on in-session and homework experiments with other group members 
  • Make friends with people who share a common therapy experience, which is a good way to keep making progress after the group is over 
  • Groups serve as a safe “laboratory” to explore how we relate to others and to experiment here-and-now with new ways of relating in a safe setting
  • Changing underlying attitudes and beliefs about the self and the world in order to adjust perceptions of ourselves and others in social situations

When and how often will the group meet?

The social anxiety therapy group is a structured, intensive, 20-week CBT program. Groups are made up of 6-9 members who are at least 18 years of age. The groups meet weekly for 1.5 hour sessions on Monday evenings at 6:30pm, starting December 9th, 2019, for five months.

How do I join? 

If you would like more information or want to sign up for the group please e-mail [email protected] and provide your name and telephone number. We will then get in contact with you to answer any questions.

Cost is $175 for the private intake session and $80 per group session, NYU insurance accepted.

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