Social Anxiety Mailing List May 2013

Volume 15 Number 5
May 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.
Group Information, Step-By-Step Progress, Progress Reports From Therapy Users
Local CBT Group for Social Anxiety:
May 11th - August 10th, 2013 (14 weeks). This group is full. Next date: September 21-January 11, 2014.  Details: local group.  Fill out application here.  Please enroll now for this group.  The all-day Saturday group is enhanced by social and behavioral activities on weeknights.  We have a community of people overcoming social anxiety together here.
International Therapy Groups:
The International Group scheduled for July 22nd - August 10th, 2013 is now full.

Details: International Group.  These groups consist of people who are motivated and ready to overcome social anxiety.

       Step by Step Progress
Many people without social anxiety think that we need to "push" or "force ourselves" to overcome our social anxiety problems.  They tell us to just "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," and then everything will be okay.  It is as if they think we could just magically overcome the problem in one explosive blow.
While this strategy may work in some aspects of life, such as sports or work, it is a detrimental philosophy to hold if one is trying to overcome social anxiety disorder.  

Those of us with social anxiety have been "pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps" and "forcing ourselves to do things we have anxiety about" all our lives, and doing these things has not decreased our social anxiety.  In fact, doing these things has actually caused our anxieties to grow much worse, and our social fears are only re-inforced in our brains.  
To make permanent progress against social anxiety, all you ever need to do is take one proactive, forward step at a time.  There is no need to do anything more, as that would only cause you more anxiety than necessary and could set you up for a setback, which would make your progress take even longer.Always act and move forward -- but do it by taking ONE step at a time.  Find the "easiest" option in the situation and work on it until you feel no anxiety, and then move up to the next easiest situation (or person)...


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Questions for Dr. Richards
Dear Dr. Richards,
I am amazed at the Fighting Paradox concept and handout.  
I have seen this concept explained before, but the way you explain it, and the workbook material that goes along with it, really blows my mind!  
All these years I have been doing all the things you say not to do:

I was really good at getting angry at myself, and I threw myself hundreds of pity parties.  I could never get away from the idea that it wasn't fair that I had social anxiety.  I would get depressed when I compared myself to other people.

Now, I can see that doing those things stopped and prevented me from getting any better.  I really did not understand that at all until now!

I can't believe what I am learning -- this is all stuff I never would have thought about.  
Thanks for providing all this therapy.

- Michael
Dr. Richards - Michael: Thank you - and please keep moving forward.  The lessons from the “Fighting Paradox” can change your life, but there’s a wealth of additional therapy available, too.
When I Got Back Home...
Hello everyone!!
Everything I have done here at home in the last 2 days, I always envisioned what we would be doing if we were all together, or what some of you would say in a situation.  
Could you all please just move here so I don't have to miss you?
I'm still recovering from jet lag, but other than that I'm doing quite well.  I agree with the others, I feel quite different.  I am much calmer at work, my eye contact is much better, I am not pressuring myself to be entertaining or be funny.
Last night, I was invited to go to a political rally.  Being around 1000 other people didn't bother me that much, because I would have been anonymous, but the friend I was supposed to go with had invited 4 other people to go.
My initial instinct was to tell him I'll just meet him there, but then I decided (gently) to go to his house and meet up with everybody about half an hour before the event.  I found myself to be quite calm. I told them about Phoenix and Sedona with very little, if any, anxiety.  Later in the evening I had less to say to them, and I was feeling bad about it, but then I realized that I didn't really have much in common with them, so why should I beat myself up about it?  I then focused on my friend who I knew better and talked to him for a while.  So I'm patting myself on the back about that one!
This morning while taking public transportation, I used the "look-around technique" and found that I had almost no anxiety.
Walking to work, I established eye contact with as many people as possible, and didn't avert my eyes until they did -- that felt really good.  I had a meeting this a.m. where I didn't really say much, I felt some anxiety, but it was certainly milder than I have had in the past.  I talked to a work-mate for quite a while today -- she invited herself to lunch with me and we had an hour lunch and chatted -- I felt almost no anxiety there.
I have kept my schedule quite busy this week so that I can get my mind off of my new job, which I start on Monday.  I'm meeting up with a friend or work mate every single night this week until Thursday, and then Friday I'm taking a road trip with (three friends) for the 4th of July weekend.  I come back Sunday night and Monday 8:30 a.m. I am starting my new job.
It's so nice to already hear from some of you, and I'm looking forward to hearing from the rest.  Also I can't wait to see the pictures on the website.  I have to say, it seems like the 3 weeks had more of an impact on me than I thought it did -- thank you all for making it such a wonderful experience.
- John

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.

CBT Groups Starting Soon:
A CBT group for social anxiety is starting in Connecticut, near the Greater New Haven Area.  It will be about 20 weeks long and will begin in late May, or early June.  If interested in this group, please email Marla at 
A CBT Group inSacramento, CA is also being organized, but the start dates are yet to be determined.  If interested in this group, please contact Josh at for additional information.
You may be interested in reading: 


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, Zach Brown, SAI Staff

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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.