Social Anxiety

One of the most common anxiety disorders, social phobia is defined by intense fear of social situations.  Social anxiety tends to be either related to social interactions or to performance.  With social interactions, a sufferer may experience panic when faced with having to make small talk at a cocktail party, for example.  Performance scenarios include such things as public speaking, using a public washroom or contributing to a staff meeting.  It is important to note that it is common for individuals with social phobia to experience anxiety about some social situations and to be perfectly calm in others.  For example, someone may make a living as a successful public speaker, but when it comes to networking and talking to audience members afterwards, he feels emotionally paralysed.

A defining symptom of social anxiety is that sufferers fear being noticed or doing something that garners attention, thus triggering possible feelings of humiliation, embarrassment or panic.  In fact, panic attacks may co-occur with social phobia, as can depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

As one can imagine, social phobia has huge implications for quality of life.  As human beings we are defined by our social nature.  The need for social connections is normal and healthy.  However, with social phobia, sufferers will often cope with their anxiety by avoiding social situations altogether.  Lack of healthy relationships can contribute to depression as social isolation deepens.

Social anxiety, while overwhelming, is a very treatable condition. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be very helpful.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

A phone call or email to me to enquire or set up an appointment is always relaxed and friendly. There is no pressure to “say the right thing” on the phone, via email or in my counselling office for that matter. Contact me today if you would like to learn more.

Recommended Books

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne (2010)

A best-selling self-help workbook using the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help with generalized anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety and other anxiety-related conditions. Best for those with an interest in CBT.

The Assertiveness Workbook by Randy Patterson (2022)

Practical workbook for understanding and improving assertiveness, now in its 2nd edition.


Wellness Together Canada

Canada-wide, 24/7 professional phone counselling and other support options.

Reduced-Cost Counselling [PDF]

A resource list of lower-cost professional counselling options in Vancouver. Corrections and suggestions welcome.

Vancouver Access and Assessment Centre (AAC)

604-675-3700 – Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre, Vancouver Hospital, Level 1, East Entrance

7 days a week: 7:30am-11pm. Phone, walk-in and outreach support for urgent, non life-threatening mental health and addictions issues. Response times vary. Serves residents of Vancouver.

Anxiety Canada

National organization providing information and extensive online resources for managing anxiety.

Here to Help

BC-based website offering comprehensive information on a wealth of mental health conditions and addictions concerns.