Social anxiety group therapy- session 8 ( last session)

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Hey my beauts! What a bittersweet moment it is. I can not thank you guys enough, my viewers, friends and family for supporting me through this new journey I had taken! For those of you who are not up to date with my social anxiety blogging posts, I will basically just summarise my journey and why I started attending these sessions. I have always been a very anxious person , even when I was little. I remember in elementary school always worrying constantly about homework and my studies. I was then diagnosed with general anxiety disorder within my years of university . I finally exploded and could not take it anymore . I received the help I needed to get back on my two feet , as well as taking medication on the side. My anxiety was under control for a long period of time but spiked back up again a few months ago . I saw my therapist and was inquiring about my anxiety levels as they were peaking again. I did not know if I just got used to my pills or needed a higher dosage. While speaking to my therapist , she had a thought. She handed me a sheet and asked me to rate my anxiety through all these social interactions. I scored a 90 for anxiety rating as my social anxiety levels were extremely high. She recommended that I seek this social anxiety group therapy sessions, but I was completely against it at first. Even the thought of group therapy gave me butterflies …. I would have rather had individualised therapy sessions. She informed me that everyone else in the group was on the same boat I was , suffering as well . I eventually agreed to the group therapy and I am so glad I did ! The first session was brutal , nobody really talked , hence the anxiety , but the instructors were very nice and comforting .

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Now look where I am today ! I made it through 8 sessions and finished my social anxiety treatment program. It’s amazing how far I have come. I notice it completely and so does my friends/ family members. From being so shy where I couldn’t speak on the phone to now being able to order a pizza over the phone is insane. I also can small talk with individuals without my chest tightening up, I am more relaxed while doing so ! The only exposure on my hierarchy that I need to work on is asking for help. I have struggled with this all of my life and it’s not going to be an easy one to work on let’s just say that! However, I made so many improvements over the past 8 weeks on my exposure hierarchy that I am super proud of myself.

So 6:00 hit and I sat down at the table for the last time.  We began our session with taking up homework that we had the previous week. Basically, our homework for last week was to just work on our exposure hierarchy. I had raised my hand and offered to speak to the class. I explained that I had been working on small talk again and stated that I had gone to a bar sober and met one of my friend’s friend there. I was afraid it was going to be very awkward but in reality, it went great and the conversation never died.  I was very proud of myself and so were my instructors! They had stated that I was improving a lot and were happy I was working so hard on my exposures.

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We then went into our last session of discussing new information. The instructors started discussing how to maintain our goals for the future. How we should continue to use the strategies we learned and also continue practising them as well. Rather than ending the treatment, we are encouraged to start living your life in a new way, when there really is no end. I am going to practice being assertive and focusing on my hierarchy goals.  We also discussed some of the goals when talking about cognitive behavioural therapy. We need to gain control of our anxiety by using the strategies we have learned over the past weeks to manage it. We need to become our own therapist. Since we now do not have our instructors to help guide and tend to us, we have to be our own coach.  We need to encourage ourselves as if we were speaking to our best friend.

Sometimes, dealing with social anxiety may not always seem effective, this could be for multiple reasons. First, maybe it’s too low of a dosage. Maybe we are not doing enough of our exposures to move past our fears and what makes us nervous. We could not be challenging ourselves enough as well. Another reason could be related to stress. We may be so stressed out or having a bad week that this interferes with our motivation and energy levels, affecting our exposures. Or simply life could get in the way. Often things pop up that may not be all that great, and unfortunately, we can not do much about that. If some things do get in the way of our exposures and trying to better ourselves, that is okay. Let these things happen, it does not mean to get discouraged at all. Let these things happen and when the time is right, you can work and use your strategies.  On the other hand, things may be going as planned and are effective, but what if the fear returns?  We need to sit down and think about what strategies were effective for ourselves, and we need to question ourselves as to why it came back. Sometimes, we only do our exposures occasionally, that leaves room for the fear to creep back in your life as you are not exposing yourselves more. However, there are things we can do to help prevent this from happening. First, continue using both the cognitive and exposure strategies. Second, practice these in different situations so that your exposures become second nature to you. You just have to keep, and eventually, anxiety will begin to decrease over time.

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We were then given some useful and resourceful information based on different articles about social anxiety. I will list them down below for you beauts:

  • “The Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook: PProven, Step-by-Step Techniques for Overcoming Your Fear” ( by Antony M.M and Swinson R.P. 2008)
  • “10 Simple Solutions to Shyness: How to Overcome Shyness, Social Anxiety and Fear of Public Speaking” (Antony, M.M. 2004)
  • http://www.anxietybc.com

Overall, I am so grateful and proud of the person I have become today. Months ago, I was so shy and uncomfortable for everything, it was absolutely awful. I know I needed to do something for myself and pronto even though I was scared to reach out. It is okay to ask for help and reach out if you want to better yourself. I highly highly recommend this group or some form of social anxiety treatment based groups if you are struggling that I was. I will share with you guys the accomplishments I have done over the last 8 weeks and what was on my hierarchy, to begin with.

Exposure Hierarchy

  1. Talk with individuals one-on-one
  2. maintain eye contact
  3. manage anxious thoughts about what people think  of me
  4. tolerate criticism
  5. express more in a job interview
  6. go to a party sober
  7. call people on the phone
  8. return an item to a store
  9. ask for help

What I have accomplished

  1. speaking with individuals one-on-one such as my boss and meeting new people
  2. have tried maintaining eye contact with people during one-on-one conversations on multiple occasions
  3.  If I embarrass myself, I really do not care so much what people think of me
  4. I can call people on the phone now
  5. I have returned an item to a store
  6. I have gone to two parties sober

What I need to work on- asking for help and job interviews as nothing has come up so far.

At my orientation for the group therapy, we had filled out a sheet in regards to “willingness to change”. I will share with you guys what the instructor and I had discussed based on what I would like to accomplish:

Benefits of overcoming your social anxiety: 

  • more comfortable talking to people
  • be happier
  • pursue job opportunities

Reasons for changing:

  • just finished university and wants to improve future prospects and her state

Specific goals:

  • feel comfortable talking with another person such as her boss, strangers
  • make friends
  • arrange job interviews

Previous attempts:

  • breathing techniques
  • Prozac

I can truly say I am a changed person when looking back on this sheet of paper. Never in a million years did I think I was going to overcome social anxiety, let alone I did not know I actually had it that bad. I am so glad I reached out for help, and I encourage you guys as well. If I can do it, you can. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, I have it, and I am sure others who are reading this have it as well. I will say it once again, anxiety does not define who you are as an individual. I hope you beauts enjoyed reading these sessions in regards to my group therapy meetings, I hope you beauts learned a lot, and thank you for all the love and support you guys gave me. Means the world to me. Be sure to follow my other social media accounts for updates on the latest posts!

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