Depending on your perspective, group therapy for social anxiety and social phobia is either an obvious choice or terrifying idea (in fact, you might believe both things at the same time!). The challenge is recognizing that difficulty and anxiety related to social interactions are ultimately best taken on in a social interaction (group therapy). At the same time, one must recognize that just getting in the door of a group therapy session for someone with social anxiety or social phobia may be a serious challenge.
In my practice, for those interested in group therapy to help with social anxiety and social phobia, I begin the work with short-term, individual therapy. How short term? This all depends on us. The objective here is to give you help right away with your social anxiety and the other reasons that brought you into therapy. But we’re also working on building what we need in order to add a more challenging environment, group therapy, to our work. While individual therapy can be very helpful for social anxiety and social phobias, group therapy, once you’re ready, is a much more powerful approach.
Why group therapy for social anxiety?
Social anxiety often involves intense feelings of discomfort associated with social situations, and can often lead to a strategy of avoiding social situations altogether. This is both the product of and contributes to social isolation and strained or even absent intimate, meaningful relationships. In a sense, social anxiety produces the conditions for more and more social anxiety. At some point, this pattern must be broken, and the source of the anxiety (other people) must be confronted. This happens best with the intense support that comes with a strong therapeutic relationship.
Group therapy is a place where understanding and patience abound. But it’s also a real, live social environment where you’ll both need to confront the anxiety but also have the opportunity to work on building meaningful relationships. You’ll discover others who struggle with similar things (and not just including social anxiety or social phobias). You’ll confront the challenge of building with difference. You’ll get the support you need from me, the therapist, to go further with others, to build your life in and outside of the group.