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Groups for Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Group therapy can be an important part of treatment for many people suffering from social anxiety disorder (social phobia). There are two main types of groups: therapy groups and social support groups. Therapy groups are focused on the treatment of social anxiety with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in a group setting. Social support groups provide general social support. They can also be a place to loosely practice behavioral exercises (social activities that cause anxiety) or just to have fun socially with a group of people. These two types of groups have different purposes for people with social anxiety and finding the right group depends on your needs.



Therapy Groups

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) groups are designed to help you practice new methods of dealing with situations that might lead to anxiety. In a safe group environment, you are encouraged to confront your anxiety and change the way you think and feel about certain social circumstances. It is important that all members of a CBT group be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder specifically.

Group cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown through several decades of research to be very effective in the treatment of social anxiety disorder. Often, the group sessions give patients an opportunity to reinforce the behavioral component of CBT and work through their cognitive changes in a safe environment.

When choosing a CBT group, it is important that all members are diagnosed with clinical social anxiety. While group therapies work well for other disorders related to depression and anxiety, the best results have been shown when CBT groups are focused only on social anxiety and do not include patients with other disorders. Of course, it is not always possible to find a CBT group that is only for social anxiety disorder, but one exists in your area, it is a better solution than one that is not so focused.

In these group sessions, individuals work through their newly-learned cognitive steps by dealing with situations that might normally produce anxiety, in a toned-down form. It is through the repetition of these new behaviors that the cognitive processes used to deal with anxiety-producing situations eventually changes.


Social Support Groups

Social support groups have the general purpose of providing social support to people with social anxiety, rather than specifically addressing the goals of therapy and treatment. Social groups vary significantly. Some meet at the same place consistently and follow a loose structure, while others meet at different times and locations to do fun and social activities as a group. Some people find it supportive and comforting to spend time socially with others who also experience social anxiety and may better be able to understand what they're going through. Individuals with more severe social anxiety should consider pursuing treatment with a structured therapy group before joining a social group.


Finding a Group

We have a directory of social anxiety groups organized by location. Select your country below:

Also, we have listings for telephone conference call support groups.