03-17-2010, 03:55 PM
Status: Community and Website Administrator
Join Date: May 2012
(moved over from previous review system)
Posted by smoothsketch
Social Anxiety Background
Before CBT therapy:
I had SA since early childhood. I was always quiet in the classroom. It was hard to find a friend and I never was accepted in the clique. I had zero self-esteem and wanted to be dead since the 3rd grade through the end of college. In grades 3,7,8,9,and 10 I had no friends (finally got one). In work and in clubs I had an extremely difficult time being around people and yet craved contact and being accepted. I literally had a 2 minute tolerance for being the focus of attention before a panic attack would strike and I'd flee from wherever I was, unable to stop until I was far away. I'd also panic if I felt alone and ignored in a group. At work I'd dig my nails into my hands or arms to use pain as a distraction when I was talked to by someone, especially supervisors, to prevent a panic attack to run me out of the room. I have a scar from scratching into my hand after one meeting that I needed to get through. I could not put out my opinions or speak at meetings. I was diagnosed with severe social anxiety.
After CBT therapy:
I can keep calm and don't have a 2 minute limit with people. I have not had any panic attacks that made me leave a room. I do still feel SA discomfort but know how to handle it. I am able to go places alone and not feel self-conscious about being alone. I can speak at meetings and give my opinions. I can make small talk with others. I can see the progress I have made and I can spot areas that I still need to work on and know how to go about making that progress. The group is a very good way to stay on track and get encouragement and help to meet your goals.
medications - this basically numbed me to emotion and limited the range of what I felt. Medications can be a help temporarily when beginning the behavioral exercises and when doing cognitive work but by itself it is not a cure and is not a long term solution.
Dr. Richards' tape series 'Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step'. I can remember when I heard he was preparing this and I waited for it and ordered it when it first came out. I went through the CBT program and materials by myself several times on my own because I was determined to have a better life. It is hard work that takes 1/2 hour of practice every single day on the cognitive material. This helped me a great deal and got me to the point where I could take the step of seeking further help in the Arcadia CBT group to work on the behavioral therapy in a safe social setting.
I've gone through this program several times so I could meet specific goals and I have made great improvement each time (you choose what you want to work on and this group will get you there step by step). It is based on CBT and materials from Dr. Richards' program and goes into cognitive -behavioral therapy with a focus on the behavioral work. This is done in a group and you are accountable to do the homework every day and attend the sessions which can be on the weekend. There are real world assignments that will help you overcome social anxiety.
The group is a safe environment to experiment and move towards your behavioral goals and to be encouraged with others who are also overcoming social anxiety.