Of all of the mental health issues treated through online therapy, social anxiety disorder (SAD) is perhaps the best fit. The very nature of remote, virtual counseling and techniques accommodates the condition without exacerbating it.
Getting started takes courage and determination. So, we’ve got some tips and recommendations for the best online therapy for social anxiety that’ll ease you into the process.
The Best Online Therapy Sites for Social Anxiety
Why We Like These Online Therapy Providers
- Therapists Trained Specifically in Social Anxiety Disorders – It’s helpful to have a dedicated therapist or counselor focused explicitly on your phobias instead of generalized anxiety.
- Treatment Plans Focus on the Daily Challenges – As social anxiety is a persistent fear-based condition, one session a week isn’t as effective as consistent communication.
- Virtual Toolbox to Address Social Fears and Apprehension – These particular websites go beyond talk therapy and practices with calming and problem-solving techniques.
- CBT-Based Approach – Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most-effective treatments for social anxiety, and is even more successful combined with enhanced communication and messaging.
Social anxiety is defined in slightly different ways, but the general condition is fear-based. Also known as social phobia, social anxiety disorder is a fear of daily human interaction. It includes overwhelming worries of being judged, not measuring up to others, and rejection. When it’s untreated, it can lead to extreme responses.
Unlike shyness, patients struggling with this condition can avoid school, work, or other social situations. That’s why the thought of traditional therapy might be put on the back burner as it requires a shift in behavior even before the first session.
Focusing on the Fears
The providers on our list of best online therapy for social anxiety are better prepared to address these particular symptoms. They have specialists on staff well-versed in CBT and other treatment plans specifically focused on the underlying fears.
CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy is used for many mental health conditions. So, the best online treatment for social anxiety modifies the overall CBT method to fit the client. It also focuses on the “behavioral” aspect with daily nudges and encouragement.
Types of Social Anxiety Symptoms Treated
In general, social anxiety disorder is a fear of social situations and human interaction in various degrees. The severity of the condition is behind the appearance of social anxiety and its physical and emotional symptoms.
- Altered speech patterns
- Muscle aches – tension
- Rapid heartbeat
- Breathing problems
- Nausea and other stomach issues
- Public avoidance
Social Anxiety Triggers
A variety of situations can prompt the above social anxiety symptoms. Patients may have similar responses, but the severity differs.
For example, speaking up in a business meeting could produce blushing and rapid heartbeat in one person with mild phobias. That same scenario in someone dealing with severe social anxiety could lead them to avoid the meeting or even look for other employment.
Symptoms are prompted by everyday occurrences, including:
- Public speaking
- Meeting new people
- Parties or social gatherings
- School or the workplace
- Moving or any new environment
- Phone calls or asking for assistance
How Does Online Therapy Help with Social Anxiety?
The best online therapy for social anxiety will address all of the above manifestations through a two-part CBT process that can be very successful.
Divided Approach to Social Anxiety Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy considers the connection between our thoughts (memories and imagination), emotions, actions, and physical responses.
- Cognitive – reasoning and a better understanding of others; learning to see things from a new perspective instead of self-talk that’s been programmed and practiced for years
- Behavioral – practicing a new approach to social situations by focusing on new thoughts and facing fears
Online therapy for social anxiety starts with identifying the ingrained thought patterns. The first step to change is to get to the root of the problem and then slowly shift viewpoints.
Despite the approach, the healing process starts by establishing a trusting client-therapist relationship. Effective counselors guide patients to start looking at situations through different perspectives.
Once the specific fears are brought to light, the treatment plan starts to integrate the practical experience. Therapists will assign patients real-world homework, slowly easing them into situations that would typically provoke social anxiety symptoms.
Clients committed to doing the work involved should see real progress every month, although experts say it takes 12 to 20 weeks on average to see the most significant change. That timing can be faster with bundled plans for online therapy for social anxiety, as they provide more access to therapists, which can speed up the process.
Does Online Therapy Work for Social Anxiety?
Compared to traditional in-office therapy for social anxiety, online programs can be particularly beneficial.
Clients can message their therapist when they’re out in the real world or even from school or the office if they’re feeling anxious. They’re not limited to the occasional session but, instead, supported as they participate in situations leading to the fight or flight response.
Easing the worries associated with social anxiety therapy
Not every mental health condition is suitable for online therapy, but social anxiety is just as easily treated through virtual providers as in person. Depending on the patient, it’s even more successful, as some people suffering from social anxiety draw the line at starting therapy in person with a stranger.
The online aspect can be comforting because clients can participate in sessions from home, getting to know their therapist remotely. Starting the program is less stress-inducing for many online therapy patients struggling with social anxiety.
When you couple the virtual aspect with the messaging, it’s a formula for social anxiety success, as clients are more apt to start and remain with the program.
There are quite a few benefits to online therapy, whether you’re interested in addressing social anxiety or other mental health conditions.
Benefits of Online Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Addresses the patient’s “social” apprehension
- Eases the client into facing their fears
- Combines talk therapy with real-world practice
- Useful for social anxiety sufferers of all ages
- It relies on CBT, which is one of the best methods for addressing social phobias
- The remote format can be more appealing for social anxiety disorder patients
- Effective for patients with mild, moderate, or severe social anxiety
- More affordable than traditional, in-person treatment plans
- Accommodates the patient’s location, schedule, and preferences
- Many programs integrate messaging between scheduled appointments for ongoing support