Social Anxiety Disorder (previously referred to/interchangeable with “social phobia”) is more than just being shy. It is characterized as an excessive fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people in one or more social situations. People with social anxiety often fear they will do something that will humiliate themselves, and as a result, they often avoid situations or hold-back from participating from activities in which this could happen. In children, this fear must occur in peer settings and not just during interactions with adults.

Common difficulties include:

  • Meeting new people
  • Making small talk
  • Public speaking (e.g., presenting or speaking up in class or in a business meeting)
  • Performing on stage
  • Being the center of attention
  • Being watched while doing something
  • Being teased or criticized
  • Talking with or asking for help from authority figures
  • Eating or drinking in public
  • Attending parties or other social gatherings
  • Making phone calls (e.g., ordering online)

Common physical symptoms include:

  • Upset stomach, nausea
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Red race, blushing
  • Racing hear or tightness in chest
  • Sweating or hot flashes
  • Feeling dizzy or faint

Common negative thoughts:

  • “I know I’ll end up embarrassing myself”
  • “People will think I’m stupid”
  • “I don’t have anything important enough to say”
  • “People will think I’m boring”
  • “My voice may start shaking and people will know I’m nervous”

At CABC, we offer an evidence-based, comprehensive behavioral treatment program for Social Anxiety Disorder which consists of individual and group treatment. The individual treatment includes psychoeducation, coping skills training, and Exposure Therapy, where the client learns to actively confront his/her fears in a systematic fashion. The group therapy component utilizes a skills acquisition model in which specific social skills that are commonly difficult for children and teens are taught through psychoeducation, modeling, and behavioral rehearsal. Social skills that are covered include: recognizing social cues, initiating conversations, maintaining conversations, joining groups, extending invitations, giving and receiving compliments, speaking on the telephone, proper assertiveness with peers and authority figures, and resisting peer pressure.