Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety Makes Physical Changes in the Brain

By use of brain imaging scans, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for social anxiety disorder has been shown to make physiological changes in the brain.

Although this not the first study to find and deliver this news, nevertheless the article that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association in October was a major step in helping people see that cognitive-behavioral therapy literally changes brain circuitry and wiring.  That is why we can say that you can "overcome" social anxiety.  If you are diligent in doing cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder, then your brain changes.  Meaning, you WILL overcome social anxiety.

This article includes brain scan images showing directly where changes are noted in the brain, before cognitive-behavioral treatment, and after going through cognitive-behavioral treatment.  The article also maps out other physiological data, (e.g., blood oxygen level readings).  You can see the scans showing the change that occurs in the brain as a result of a fairly bare-bones cognitive-behavioral treatment intervention.

This is an excellent article that bridges the gap between what we suspected and what we now know and can prove.  Literal, physical changes occur as you do cognitive behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder.

The journal article goes into details, and provides scans of changes in the brain.

When you learn a cognitive strategy, and learn it well, there are physical changes in your brain.  If you learn one strategy well, you will remember it until the day you die.  One strategy is not enough to overcome social anxiety, but the combination of all the strategies we have, both cognitive and behavioral in nature, allows us to overcome social anxiety and go on to lead a normal life, free from the restrictions that anxiety places on lives.

This article can be accessed from our citations page, which is a listing of research articles that our social anxiety program is built upon.  The study is titled "Impact of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder on the Nueral Dynamics of Cognitive Reappraisal of Negative Self Beliefs"

A more detailed conceptual explanation of cognitive-behavioral therapy specifically for social anxiety disorder

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The Social Anxiety Association

The Social Anxiety Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 to meet the growing needs of people with social anxiety.  The SAA became inactive for several years due to lack of resources.  We are in the process of re-doing our website, listing all active, structured CBT groups for social anxiety, and renewing all our licenses.  Major changes will be happening by the end of 2013.  We publish new web content -- concerning social anxiety -- almost daily on the site now.

The Social Anxiety Institute is the largest website on the internet about social anxiety disorder (social phobia). Therapy programs have run at the Institute full-time since 1994.  Major new help for overcoming social anxiety is under development and will be introduced in 2013. 

For treatment: Overcoming social anxiety: Step by Step   A structured guide to overcoming social anxiety (a "How to" guide to get over social anxiety).

The Anxiety Network explains and describes five major anxiety disorders.

Guidelines for listing social anxiety groups on this site.  We cannot officially endorse groups, so check them out thoroughly.  We ask that they be groups that are operating, have a definite leader, and are thoroughly structured.  Social anxiety therapy groups are very different than the groups that operate for other mental health conditions.