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CBT + Exposure Therapy for Social Anxiety

Denver, CO and Beyond

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with a focus on exposure techniques is a highly effective, evidence-based approach specifically tailored for treating Social Anxiety Disorder. It's considered a top-tier method in the treatment of social anxiety due to its proven effectiveness in breaking the persistent cycle of fear and avoidance of social situations. This method works by changing the brain's perception and response to feared social interactions and the anxiety they provoke. As you progress through treatment, you will notice a shift in how you respond to these social situations. The frequency and intensity of the anxiety will begin to diminish, and the overwhelming urge to avoid social settings will lessen. After several sessions, you will experience a significant transformation in your relationship with social environments and anxiety, leading to a profound sense of freedom and empowerment.

social anxiety

In-person sessions available throughout the Denver, CO area. Online sessions offered throughout CO, NV, AZ, NJ, WA, UT, and IL


Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety can often feel like navigating through a perplexing, upside-down world. It's a disorder that exploits your deepest insecurities, convincing you that every social interaction will lead to embarrassment or judgment. But here’s the twist: the more you avoid these interactions, the stronger the social anxiety becomes. It's a cycle where fear of judgment leads to avoidance of social situations, which only serves to increase the fear.

This cycle can start small—perhaps avoiding eye contact or dodging conversations—but it tends to expand over time, progressively limiting your social life. You might start avoiding social gatherings, public speaking, or even casual meet-ups because they trigger your social anxiety symptoms. It feels as though social anxiety is boxing you in, compelling you to live in a way that goes against your desires for connection and interaction. You might find yourself missing out on opportunities and relationships that seem effortless to others but feel insurmountable to you.


These behaviors and the isolation they create can significantly disrupt your daily life. You might turn down job opportunities for fear of the interview process or feel lonely because social fears keep you from making friends. It's important to recognize these patterns as symptoms of social anxiety, not as personal flaws or choices. They are signs of a disorder that is manageable, not reflections of your worth as a person. Acknowledging this is the first step towards reclaiming the vibrant, connected life that social anxiety has been concealing.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for social anxiety disorder works by helping you identify and change the negative thoughts that contribute to your anxiety in social situations. First, CBT helps you become aware of the specific thoughts you have during social interactions that might be unrealistic or unhelpful. These could be thoughts like "Everyone is judging me" or "I will embarrass myself." The next step is to challenge these negative thoughts. CBT teaches you to question them and assess how accurate they really are. You learn to look at evidence that supports or contradicts these thoughts. Once you've identified and challenged the negative thoughts, CBT helps you replace them with more balanced and realistic thoughts. Instead of thinking, "Everyone is judging me," you might learn to think, "Most people are probably more focused on themselves than on me." You practice these new ways of thinking in real or imagined social situations within therapy sessions. Over time, this practice helps decrease your anxiety and builds your confidence in social settings. By changing how you think about and interpret social interactions, CBT reduces the fear and discomfort of social anxiety, allowing you to engage more freely and confidently in everyday activities.


Gradual exposure therapy for social anxiety disorder involves a step-by-step process that helps you slowly face and overcome your fears of social situations. The first step is to make a list of social situations that cause you anxiety, ordered from the least to the most frightening. For example, making eye contact might be at the lower end, while giving a public speech might be at the top. You begin with the least intimidating situation on your list. This could be something like saying "hello" to a colleague or asking a store clerk a question. With the guidance of a therapist, you expose yourself to this situation until it feels less daunting. You repeat this exposure regularly, which helps reduce the anxiety associated with that situation. Once you feel more comfortable with one situation, you move up to the next level of your fear hierarchy. Each step builds on the confidence gained from the previous one, gradually reducing your overall anxiety in social settings. Through gradual exposure, you essentially retrain your brain to be less fearful of social interactions, gradually expanding your comfort zone and enabling you to engage more fully in social activities.

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What can I expect from CBT and Exposure Therapy for Social Anxiety?

After completing a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with exposure therapy for social anxiety disorder, you're likely to notice a significant reduction in how often and intensely you experience symptoms of social anxiety. For some individuals, these symptoms might substantially decrease or even feel fully manageable. For others, the overwhelming fear of social situations becomes less frequent and much less intrusive. You'll also find that the dread of social interactions starts to diminish, which means more freedom and less worry about upcoming social events.

Many people emerge from therapy feeling a greater sense of control over their reactions and behaviors in social settings, learning that they can manage anxiety and navigate social nuances without withdrawing. This boost in confidence and autonomy typically enhances overall daily functioning. Plus, the skills you develop during therapy—such as gradually facing social fears, managing anxiety effectively, and remaining engaged in social interactions—are not just for handling social anxiety; they are valuable in other areas of life too. You might find improvements in your relationships, work performance, and general social life because you are no longer constrained by the intense fears that once held you back.

Overall, engaging in CBT with exposure therapy can provide a profound sense of relief and empowerment, equipping you with the tools to maintain your improvements and face future social challenges with increased resilience and confidence.

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