Social Anxiety Mailing List August 2013

                                                                                  Volume 15 Number 8
August 2013

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The Social Anxiety Mailing List

The Social Anxiety Mailing List, which first began in 1999, comes to you from The Social Anxiety Institute in Phoenix. 
You can reach our home page here.
We have some major announcements we'll be making in the next few months.  Check the website for announcements, and they will also appear on this mailing list.  A big THANK YOU to everyone who has been helping us get these major projects done.   We couldn't do it without you.   
Upcoming Group Dates, Q & A with Dr. Richards, Blushing: A Symptom of Social Anxiety
Local CBT Group for Social Anxiety at SAI:
Next date: September 21-January 11, 2014.
Details: local group.  Please enroll now for this group - it is almost full.  Fill out an application here.  The all-day Saturday group is enhanced by social and behavioral activities on weeknights and Sundays.  We have a community of people living here who are overcoming social anxiety together.
Other Local CBT Groups for Social Anxiety:
Richard A. Preuit, M.A., LMFT - Practice in Arcadia, California (Los Angeles area).  Rich is a licensed therapist, specializing in the treatment of social anxiety, and has been offering friendly, active, structured CBT groups for social anxiety for over 13 years. He is currently enrolling for a 14-week, Summer/Fall CCBT Group, meeting on Saturdays (9am to noon). In the safety of the group you will learn, practice, and apply the OSA:SBS concepts, techniques, and strategies to your life...and then gradually and gently move out into the real world based on your own unique needs – no pressure!  Completing an Intake Assessment and CCBT Group Contract are pre-requirements for group membership.  For more information, contact Rich at or leave a voicemail message at 626.919.5903.
International Therapy Groups:
Next date:  April 7 - April 21, 2014.
Details: International Group.  These groups consist of people who are motivated and ready to overcome social anxiety.

Q & A with Dr. Richards

Q:  Dr. Richards,

I have an awful side effect from my social anxiety disorder. It is bad
enough when you are cursed with this problem, but I have an added
problem that makes me really depressed and feeling hopeless.

Whenever I am talking to someone (anyone, except for my husband)
I get really nervous and then my lips begin to spasm and feel like
they are quivering.  I have become so self-conscious about this that
I am now very avoidant as well.

I will do almost anything to avoid talking to people because I believe
that they can see this because I see their reactions (like looking at
my lips and touching their own lips and acting nervous themselves).

It is like they know I am nervous and see my lips spasming and then
they get nervous and try to get away from me because they are
uncomfortable too.

I feel so lonely and depressed about this and I try so hard to control
my lips but I just can't seem to.  Has anyone ever had this kind of
problem?  What can you do to help reduce this self-conscious feeling
and how do you stop being obsessed with your lip moving?  Thanks
for the help.


A:  Diana:  These kinds of physiological responses to anxiety are,
unfortunately, quite common. Other people have similar physical
symptoms like neck and facial twitches, hands that shake, blushing,
and excessive sweating, among others.

The only sure fire answer to this problem is to overcome social
anxiety altogether.  The good news is that each and every time you
really "learn" and "act on" a new cognitive thought or belief, your
brain is physically changing inside and, as a result, you will feel less and less anxious.

Because you feel less anxious, your lip spasms (or any other
physiological symptom) will decrease, too.

So, even at the beginning stages of recovery, although your
"problem" still happens, you have learned to control it somewhat,
and the anxiety, worry and fear are not as strong as before.  As you
continue with CBT, there will be ups and downs.

However, over the months the "ups" will always outweigh the "downs" and you will get to the place where social anxiety and its effects can no longer bother you anymore.

Hard to believe?  Yes.  We all know that this takes patience and work.  But this is exactly what happens.

In cognitive therapy you will learn that the more you "try" to stop the symptom from happening, the worse it will get.  Therapy will show you how (in gradual, incremental steps) to take it easy, slow yourself down, focus away from the problem, and pay attention to external things.

We pay too much attention to our internal irrational thoughts and we must learn to
think, feel, and believe more rationally, as we pay more attention to external events.

Once you fully understand these cognitive therapy methods, the four
techniques I just mentioned need to be practiced over and over
again, so that your brain responds automatically to them.  As you
gradually keep doing this, you will find that this (or any)
physiological symptom will continue to disappear.

The moment you start cognitive therapy, you will be on track for
reducing the self-consciousness that contributes to the lip spasms.
Each week it will be a little bit easier and less anxiety causing for you.

Since the only real solution to this is to overcome the social anxiety, it is very positive that this is something we all can do. 

-- Dr. Richards

Blushing:  A Symptom of Social Anxiety
Over the years, we have received this question on a regular basis:  "Is blushing a symptom of social anxiety?"

Here is a typical inquiry:

Hi Dr. Richards,

Am I really wrong in believing that people think it's strange to see someone blush and act nervous in front of them for no apparent reason?

Could I have been misjudging people and their responses to me all these years? You say that ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) are always wrong - are my thoughts wrong?

If I only knew that it really wasn't that big of a deal, then I think I could overcome social anxiety for good.

Also, which handouts (i.e., therapy methods) would best address my problem directly?  I'm going through the "Overcoming Social Anxiety" audio series, and I've noticed a lot of good progress, but I am still afraid of blushing and about what people think about it.

-- Jen

Dear Jen:

Blushing is an instantaneous physiological response to a situation we find potentially embarrassing, and it is a big problem for many people who have social anxiety disorder.

(Not everyone who blushes has social anxiety, and not every person with social anxiety blushes).

Being put on the spot can trigger blushing.

An example of this might be when you feel you are made the center of attention and everyone is looking at you.  Or, maybe someone has singled you out and put you on the spot by asking you a question in front of other people.  Perhaps the supervisor at work comes up behind you, surprises you, and asks you a question for which you don't have the answer.  All of these situations are potential triggers to people whose social anxiety symptoms include blushing.


Please join us on our public   page, and follow our  feed.

***The "Overcoming Social Anxiety" Audio Series is now completely digital, so this will save you time and money.  It will be especially helpful to our international friends.

**We have also added an Installment Payment option on the audio series page for those who want to pay that way.  Our goal is to reach as many people as possible with this therapy.

To use the payment plan, click the "Contact" button on the menu bar at the far right, select "Ordering" and mention "Installment Plan" in your message to us.

Social Anxiety CBT Groups Around The World

Go to the CBT Groups Operating page.  These groups are proactive and structured.  All of them use the "Overcoming Social Anxiety" audio series as a foundation for overcoming social anxiety.

You may be interested in reading:

Social Anxiety and Dysmorphias: Strong Irrational Beliefs

Social Anxiety: Why Isn't It Better Known?

Why it is Important to be Calm When Doing Therapy 

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Breaking the Cycle

You CAN get better and overcome social anxiety.  It happens all the time. You deserve a better life, free from the anxiety and the restrictions that social anxiety places on you, and we are here to help aid you in this process.

Copyright © 2013, The Social Anxiety Institute, Inc.
Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Psychologist/Director, SAI
Matthew Whitley, Practice Manager
Justin Bashore, Aaron O'Banion, SAI Staff

Follow Dr. Richards

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.