Social anxiety disorder is characterized by a fear of being seen by others in a way that is negative. This means that people with social anxiety are highly fearful of being rejected or judged.
You may think someone with social anxiety should be cured by interacting with other people. Over time, their fear is sure to lessen, right?
To an extent, this is true. Repeated exposure to a feared object or situation (e.g., social interaction for a socially anxious person) can result in a less pronounced response over time. This is why exposure therapy is so effective for some people who have phobias.
But it’s important that people are able confront their fears in a way that is healthy. Being exposed to too much of a feared stimulus too fast can lead to an even stronger fear response in the phobic person.
An article in the Chicago Tribune describes a setting which allows socially anxious people to meet, discuss their fears, and learn to grow more comfortable with social interaction. The class, run by a dating coach, is meant to show people with social anxiety that they are not alone. It is also aimed, more practically, at helping them to succeed in their romantic pursuits. Dating can be especially difficult for the socially anxious because of their fear of going out and meeting new people.
Find out what the social anxiety course is like by reading the excellent article at the link below.