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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Next step for social anxiety treatment?

    I am male, 40 years old. Previously, quite extroverted and very social. I had a public speaking situation come up (I choked up) and it triggered social anxiety. I now get strong anxiety even approaching the counter to buy my lunch. In such anxious situations I feel as if I am on the verge of tears. Not as bad with strangers.

    I have seen one psychologist (6 sessions) who tried hypnosis and regression (childhood) and a basic attempt at CBT. None of it really worked. My anxiety actually became worse than before I started seeing the psychologist. I don't really have a thoughts going through my head when the anxiety kicks in, it just seems to be an automatic response now.

    I am going to my GP and getting another referral to a new psychologist but I am wondering if there are any tips on strategies I can adopt to address this. i.e., particular specialists, any particular treatments that may work better for someone who was previously “OK”, medications?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1




    Emma Pinn

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I'm a Clinical Psychologist who has expertise working with children, adolescents, young people, and adults in managing anxiety, depression, emotional problems, insomnia, low motivation, and … View Profile

    Research has demonstrated that CBT is an effective treatment for social anxiety. It sounds like you need someone who is highly trained in it. You might want to look for a Clinical Psychologist as they are likely to have strong skills in treating anxiety disorders, including social anxiety, using CBT. I just hope your previous experience hasn't put you off. I believe exposure (i.e. gradually facing anxiety-provoking situations while using cognitive strategies) is an important part of CBT treatment for anxiety, and the research supports this. I hope the clinician you eventually go to will incorporate this into your treatment plan (and if they don't, perhaps ask them why not). Anecdotally, my clients have found that exposure, when incorporated into a treatment plan, really is very effective in reducing anxiety.
    Best of luck with your treatment.

  • 1


    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    I agree with Emma that finding a clinical psychologist who has experience of using CBT methods with his/her clients is a great plan.

    I found that learning CBT methods from my clinical psychologist was very beneficial in my recovery from clinical depression and (to a lesser extent) anxiety.

    I don't in the least mean to invalidate what you have described but you wrote "I have seen one psychologist (6 sessions)". In my experience 6 sessions is not long enough to learn how to use CBT methods - it took me about 6 months to (with able help from my clinical psychologist) learn how to apply CBT to my issues.

    All the best.

  • Vivienne Morrow

    Counsellor, Psychotherapist

    Vivienne Morrow, Professional Counsellor and Psychotherapist. She offers both individual and group counselling and psychotherapy. Her clients range from young adults to seniors. Vivienne employs … View Profile

    As part of your treatment perhaps you might consider joining a local anxiety support group. A good counsellor/psychotherapist will provide a safe, confidential space in which you can share your experiences with others dealing with their anxiety. If the counsellor/psychotherapist is trained in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) techniques then they can help you work through a personalized program for exposure to your triggers for high levels of anxiety.

    Best wishes.

  • pimmento

    HealthShare Member

    I do not know if this is a real answer to your anxiety but I had joined an anxiety group just recently although I have only been on the one occasion it was an eye opener for me.  I wanted to learn and understand and as I entered the building I was directed to the group I thought was my Anxiety group.  In a small drab room there were four people sitting around a table, files were on the tabel along with booklets, they looked very depressed and I thought, ‘this has to be my group’ and I apologised for being late.  

    One of the participants asked me who I was looking for and I told them it was the anxiety group and the lady replied ‘Oh no, we are the secret eaters group, your group is in the other building’.  My group was indeed in the other building, a well lit room with pamplets and nibbles, coffee on tap and a great atmosphere.  There was plenty to learn and people to meet, the secret eaters group could take some lessons from the anxiety group.  

    From this experience I learned that an atmosphere that exudes inclusion, enjoyment and good exercises in learning about anxiety is the way for me to go….it may be different for others but you can learn different types of interventions and have some fun.

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