Health anxiety

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder is a persistent fear of social situations, especially where you may be exposed to possible scrutiny and judgement. Such situations can provoke a real fear that you might act in a way that will be embarrassing and /or show symptoms of anxiety. Social situations are therefore usually avoided, or endured with quite intense anxiety.

Although it is quite common to feel nervous or anxious before and during certain social situations (e.g., job interviews), those with social anxiety disorder may find many everyday social situations and interactions trigger feelings of extreme self-consciousness, embarrassment and anxiety. These feelings and the way you may try to manage them (e.g., through avoidance or drinking alcohol) can be detrimental to many life domains, including: relationships, leisure time, work and homelife.

Do I have social anxiety?

You may have social anxiety if you quite regularly experience the below symptoms:

Symptoms of social anxiety?

  • High levels of anxiety about what other people may think of you, or how they may judge you, which leads to you to:
    • Avoid social situations or endure them with unease or distress, and experience:
    • Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, feeling hot / clammy / sweating, blushing, or butterflies in your stomach (which cause further anxiety)
  • Anxiety around unfamiliar people / speaking to strangers
  • Difficulty making and maintaining eye contact
  • Difficulty eating in front of others
  • Feeling uneasy at large gatherings
  • Not wanting to be / avoiding being the centre of attention
  • Fear of criticism
  • Fear of people in authority

Sometimes, some of the above physical symptoms in themselves can be very distressing, and when we notice them, we can become even more anxious. However, there is a very good reason for us having them, the fight or flight response which you can find out more about on our Anxiety page.

Online therapy and treatment for anxiety:

National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines primarily recommend Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for social anxiety disorder. CBT focuses on the reciprocal relationships between cognitions, emotions, physiological responses and behaviors in order to understand how difficulties are maintained in the ‘here-and-now’. Treatment emphasises collaborative empiricism; working with your therapist to ‘test’ the validity of anxious thoughts with a view to minimise anxiety and unhelpful behavioural responses.

Other approaches with emerging research to support people in overcoming social anxiety include: ACT and EMDR.

At Counselling Psychology Online, many of our online therapists are trained in these approaches and have several years’ experience in helping people manage their anxiety. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to arrange an initial assessment session.

You may also wish to look at our resources page for further ideas of getting help to manage your social anxiety.



Coping with Social Anxiety with Counselling Psychology Online


We provide bespoke therapy solutions for those suffering from social anxiety here at Counselling Psychology Online. If you require any further information about us, please feel free to get in touch – al our contact details are here.

Additionally, answers to the most commonly asked questions about our therapies, fees and online therapy can be found on our FAQ page.