This site was written to fulfill a promise: If I ever figured out how to overcome my social anxiety, I would show others how to do the same. This information is as detailed and accurate as I can make it. It is completely free. It is as close as possible to the information I give my own patients when treating social anxiety. The techniques are also almost identical the ones I use to treat generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

About This Author

I earned both a Bachelor's Degree of Science in Biology and a Bachelor's Degree of Arts in Psychology at Stanford University. I then received my medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and my training in adult psychiatry at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. I subsequently served as a clinical instructor at the UCLA Anxiety Disorders Clinic for two years and the UCLA Interpersonal Psychotherapy Clinic for one year. I am nationally certified in the use of both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy.  I have posted a complete version of my resume at www.LApsychiatrist.com.

I used to suffer from moderate to severe Social Anxiety Disorder. I felt nervous and self-conscious even around my close friends. I made some progress in decreasing my social anxiety on my own mainly by pushing myself to engage with people (what I would now consider to be Real-Life Exposures). However, the greatest progress in my internal comfort, my ability to form close friendships, and my ability to push through commitment phobia resulted from using the techniques I describe on this website (i.e. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). My bouts of feeling intensely self-conscious and socially anxious are now very rare (just a few times a year) and even then I am able to break out of the anxiety (using Relaxation Techniques, Cognitive Therapy, or Exposures - all of which are described on this website).  Over the course of my learning and my studies, I became familiar with many Social Skills, Assertiveness Techniques, and Relationship Skills which further enriched my life. My greatest professional joy comes from helping others with social anxiety, which is large part of the reason why I decided to put up this website.

Levels of Evidence

As much as possible, I have tried to stick with evidence-based techniques (i.e. techniques that have multiple experimental studies behind them). However, there are many areas where there simply are no scientific data to rely on and so I have had to rely on my own training as a psychiatrist, my experience treating (now over 1000) patients, other professionals’ expert opinions, and my own experience in overcoming social anxiety.

In terms of evidence, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (which consists of Exposures, Cognitive Therapy, and Relaxation Training) is the most experimentally-validated technique in the treatment of social anxiety disorder. There are literally dozens of randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of this technique (ref). Assertiveness Training has many studies to support it as well. In particular, in relieving anger and improving subjective well-being (ref). Social Skills and Relationship Skills on the other hand are based primarily on expert, personal, and clinical experience.

How to Use This Site

This website describes the same techniques that I teach my patients. The advice I give my patients is to try each group of techniques for about a week. If they like a technique, then they keep using it. If it doesn’t help, then they move on to the next one. The one exception to this is Gradual Exposures (i.e. the Berserker Style). Exposures are the most impactful of all of the techniques I use with my patients (and are the most evidence-based), but they sometimes don’t work the first time around (in particular, when starting out with something too intense). If this is the case, I usually encourage my patients to try the exposure techniques one more time later on with an easier exposure.

You can jump from section to section at your leisure via the menu at the top of each page. Alternatively, if you would like to read the information in the order that I recommend, follow the "Next Section" link at the bottom of each page. Also, if you'd like to practice the techniques on this website, feel free try my interactive-fiction game: Anxiety Quest