You suffer from social anxiety and are craving professional help, but there is one paradox holding you back: your fear of doing so.
Like most people with social anxiety disorder (SAD), you refrain from seeking help because you are afraid of the potential in-person encounters with another human being that come along with psychotherapy.
Admittedly, sharing your most personal concerns and thoughts with a stranger can be intimidating, especially if you suffer from social anxiety disorder.
So, whenever you pick up the phone to make that call or you log in to your email account to send that message, you end up changing your mind. “I’ll do it some other day”, you think to yourself.
Times Have Changed
But what if there were another way you could receive professional help? Help that does not imply face-to-face contact with another person?
That’s what online treatment for social anxiety disorder seems to promise, and that’s what many social anxiety sufferers are looking for today.
The recent decade has produced promising alternatives to the traditional delivery formats of psychotherapy. While treatment for social anxiety used to be restricted to in-person one-on-one or group sessions, there are now several ways to receive therapy online.
From 1-on-1 Online Therapy to Fully Automated Programs
How do these offers look like?
Well, you can find anything from personalized counselling & therapy sessions with a professional, over semi-automated courses, to complete online programs.
While individual therapy with a qualified therapist is likely to stay the best option for those looking for professional help tailored to their individual needs, automated online courses provide a great option for those who prefer to get started by themselves.
These programs usually consist of psychoeducation, meaning they inform about social anxiety and the theory behind a particular intervention, and encourage the individual to carry out specific interventions which have been proven effective in clinical trials.
These programs typically provide additional worksheets, designed to facilitate the therapeutic process.
However, the reactions of psychotherapists to the emergence of such interventions have been mixed.
Some have criticized that online courses maintain avoidance behavior, which is an important maintaining factor of social anxiety disorder.
They may have a point, as taking an online class from the safety of one’s home does not entail exposure to social situations and feared scenarios.
However, four out of five people with SAD never receive professional help (Grant et al., 2005).
This means that the majority of affected people remains untreated, despite effective interventions being available. Therefore, social anxiety disorder may represent a condition especially suitable for online interventions.
In addition, well-designed online programs endorse exposure to feared situations, as exposure seems to be a major driver of change for people with social anxiety.
A well-designed online therapy course for SAD facilitates treatment initiation and endorses exposure to feared social scenarios at a later point of treatment.
A Reason for Hope for Many People With Social Anxiety Disorder
Our intention here is not to argue that online interventions are on eye level with in vivo psychotherapy in terms of effectiveness, although there is a surprising number of studies that seem to prove exactly this.
Rather, we want to point out the potential benefits of online interventions as a powerful option for those who refrain from starting a therapeutic process with a professional therapist, because they are to afraid and intimidated to do so.
After all, you are looking for some helpful information, tips and advice that can relieve your suffering relatively quickly.
You may not even feel like you need a “real” psychotherapy, but just want to understand a little more about this psychological condition. Or, you believe you do need professional help, but you are simply too afraid to reach out.
From our experience of working with socially anxious individuals, we came to understand that online treatments represent a reason for hope for many affected people, as it provides many with a much-sought option.
Worth a Shot!
As of today, there are several courses designed to treat social anxiety disorder online. Some of them have been tested for their efficacy, others have not.
If you have been considering psychotherapy for your SAD, but have refrained from seeking professional help, online treatment may be a solid option for you and can be worth a shot!
We are currently developing the first holistic online course for social anxiety, which is based on the numerous psychotherapies and interventions that have been proven effective over the years.
Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date and receive a special offer when we launch it towards the end of 2021.
Grant, B. F., Hasin, D. S., Blanco, C., Stinson, F. S., Chou, S. P., Goldstein, R. B., … Huang, B. (2005). The epidemiology of social anxiety disorder in the United States: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.v66n1102