Social phobia, otherwise known as social anxiety disorder is characterised by symptoms such as fear of being subjective to negative evaluation by others which causes the development and maintenance of irrational and excessive anxiety that is associated by the social situation. The pathological fears are acquired through classical conditioning of connecting social situations to the emotion of anxiety and maintained through operant conditioning by avoiding the social situation. Therefore the person with social anxiety will avoid the fearful situation and the avoidance will in turn maintain the fear.
It is important to consider the related thoughts and emotions to the fears. Therefore the application of emotion focused cognitive behavioural therapy (ECBT) will treat a variety of emotions that is associated with the fears. The emotions may include sadness, worry and anger and consider cultural diversity. The thoughts may include "everybody thinks I'm no good". The ECBT treatment will also include teaching new skills to help manage the thoughts and emotions with an emphasis of problem-solving strategies in different social situations to improve social skills and develop resilience. Afterwards, assertive skills training would also be included, in a safe and supportive environment, to help the client learn how to resolve conflict and to feel more in control in challenging social situations. In summary, social anxiety is treatable with a positive outcome of being able to confidently socialise in a variety of situations and most importantly to be able to manage challenging situations.
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