Individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder experience significant distress and anxiety about one or more social situations in which they feel they might be subject to evaluation or criticism by other people. Many individuals with social anxiety feel uncomfortable and distressed in a wide range of interpersonal situations. They may fear embarrassment or humiliation. They are likely to experience a great deal of worry and anticipatory anxiety prior to social situations. Children and adolescents with social anxiety may appear extremely shy and may struggle with making friends. They may avoid school or participating in activities because they are so anxious.
Some individuals with social anxiety may experience significant anxiety and distress only in situations that involve public speaking or performing. For instance, high school and college students may opt out of important classes to avoid required class presentations.
Treatment for Social Anxiety:
At AATC, treatment for clients with social anxiety is individualized. First, a thorough assessment determines the particular factors that are causing that child or adolescent to feel socially anxious. Depending on the child’s specific strengths and symptoms, treatment is likely to include a combination of approaches, including education, cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT), exposure-based techniques, behavioral rehearsal (role-playing) and self-soothing strategies. Children and adolescents are educated about anxiety and learn how to identify unhelpful ways of thinking related to their anxiety about school. They are taught cognitive and behavioral strategies to replace anxious thoughts with more helpful, accurate and rational ways of thinking. Coping tools to manage feelings of anxiety and associated physical symptoms are also part of treatment. Behavioral rehearsal and exposure allow the child to practice social interaction with the therapist and then gradually engages in social interactions outside of the session (this may occur both with the therapist and independently). Social skills training and assertiveness training may also be included in treatment, if appropriate.
There is also a supportive component to therapy that allows the child to discuss life stressors and concerns. Parents are educated on the tools their child is learning so they can support a child’s progress outside of treatment. With parent permission, our therapists will work with your child’s school, pediatrician, psychiatrist and other community providers as needed.
Our focus is on treating the “whole child,” so issues other than anxiety may also be addressed in treatment.
For more information regarding treatment for children and adolescents, or to schedule an initial evaluation for your child, please contact Dr. Lori Kasmen at (610) 667-6490 ext 21 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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