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  • Writer's pictureguyiacono

Exposure Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

We all face social anxiety to some extent. But, for it to be diagnosed as a health issue, there should be some sort of disruption in your day-to-day life.


Once diagnosed, your therapist will come up with an effective solution based on your medical history, symptoms, and maybe other criteria.

In this article, we’ll discuss “Exposure Therapy”, one of the most effective ways to overcome social anxiety disorder.


Exposure Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder


What is Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy involves exposing oneself to a certain problematic social situation.

The goal is to decrease the intensity of anxiety associated with that social situation.

This style of therapy is a well-researched form of treatment.

Now, it can be intimidating for SAD patients to expose themselves to problematic social situations-

but, with professional assistance, effective treatment of SADs through exposure therapy is possible.

You can practice exposure therapy yourself, but it can be hard to follow the right track and make it work.


How Does Exposure Therapy Work?

The exact procedure of exposure therapy can vary, but generally, the first step is to identify a list of social situations you feel anxious in.



Then, your therapist may expose you to these social situations using different techniques.

Staying in these social situations for a certain period of time can help you feel more comfortable.

You need to rank these social situations and start with the one that seems least intimidating.

When you get comfortable with that, expose yourself to the next social situation on the list.

Also, reflect on whatever you experienced during the exercise. You may conclude that some of your perceived outcomes are baseless.


Moreover, we tend to rely on safety behavior when faced with an intimidating social situation.

For instance, you may feel tempted to frequently check your phone without a reason.

If you find yourself doing that in a social situation, switch to a task that’s less intimidating.

In addition, don’t expect your social anxiety to fade off completely. Feeling socially anxious to some extent is normal.


Types of Exposure Therapies

According to the American Psychological Association, exposure therapies can be of four types:

· In Vivo: Where the patient experiences the social situation in real life

· Imaginal: Where you imagine an anxiety-inducing social situation vividly

· Virtual Reality: Virtual reality exposure is used when experiencing something in real life is too difficult

· Interoceptive: Where you’re made to experience a physical sensation to help you realize its harmlessness


Getting Professional Help


Social anxiety disorders can make you feel helpless in a lot of situations.

One of the most effective ways to get rid of your social fears is by facing them.

Exposure therapy helps you do just that.

Done correctly, exposure therapy can be incredibly helpful in managing social anxiety disorders and it can even be done at home.

It can be hard to force yourself to do something uncomfortable. With a professional therapist, you get a safe environment to deal with these fears.

Let a professional help you overcome your social fears with exposure therapy.


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