Social Phobia

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have been developing social phobia which is getting worse. I avoid people in my office and don’t feel comfortable around people. My 20 year old son and I have moved to a new place recently and he seems to be exhibiting the same anti-social behavior. I have tried to get him to see a therapist, he refuses and doesn’t think he has a problem. I know I do and it is getting worse. My job as a process server is getting impossible to do. My other son recently left for Colorado to attend college.

I find myself unable to cope with him leaving. My sons are best friends and don’t really have any other friends. They had a lot of friends when they were younger. Their dad moved to Michigan about 6 yrs ago, he only visits occasionally. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank You.

A. You should follow the same advice that you gave your son, which is to consider seeing a therapist. Perhaps if you went to therapy and he saw that you improved, he might reconsider treatment.

Social phobia is a very treatable disorder. It’s a specific type of anxiety disorder. Individuals with this disorder, like you, tend to avoid situations that they fear. Over time the situations in which they feel comfortable, decrease. This means there are fewer and fewer places that they are willing to go. Eventually, if left untreated, individuals with social phobia may not be able to leave the house. Their fear of interacting with people can become so overwhelming that they become confined to their home. You’re at the point when it’s getting difficult for you to attend work. This is why it is important for you to seek treatment.

Even if you do choose to seek treatment and your clinical symptoms improve, there is no guarantee that your son will follow your lead. That’s because, as you noted, he does not believe there’s anything wrong with him. As the idiom goes “cross that bridge when you get there,” but for now all you can do is try to help yourself. It’s difficult to get someone into treatment if they don’t believe they have a problem.

Please consult this directory and search for a therapist in your community. As I mentioned above, social phobia is a very treatable disorder. Cognitive behavioral treatment is very popular. Behavioral treatments may also be effective. I hope you will choose to pursue treatment. It could be a turning point in your life. Good luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Nov 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Social Phobia. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/11/08/social-phobia/