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Exposure Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder

April 11, 2012

Exposure therapy is a part of cognitive behaviour therapy and is a very effective component in the treatment of social anxiety disorder (SAD). Exposure therapy concerns confronting one’s fearful triggers in order to master the anxiety associated with those situations. It is challenging work, but has high payoffs.

Many individuals who have SAD often say that they are exposing themselves, and often on a daily basis to social situations, but do not feel better for it. Many individuals with SAD who do confront anxiety provoking social situations on a daily basis, are not actually doing exposure. This is for many reasons. Some of these reasons include: 1) There are subtle safety behaviours that the individual performs in order to manage situations; 2) There is avoidance of certain aspects of the social situation (such as withdrawal or limited time spent in the situation), 3) Selective situations are chosen to engage with and other situations that trigger more anxiety are avoided; 4) The social encounters are often short.

When doing CBT and starting with the exposure therapy part of the program, the therapist will help the individual to engage in effective exposures, that leave a lasting difference in the person’s life.

For more info on CBT and exposure therapy visit


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