Cognitive behavior group therapy for SAD patients

Social anxiety group therapy can take many forms. One of the most common forms of group therapy for social anxiety disorder (SAD) is cognitive behavioral group therapy.

You may have a lot of questions about what the group treatment will involve and how it will help you resolve specific symptoms. You may even question how being with a group of people (what you might be most afraid of) will help you overcome anxiety.

If you have SAD, you may spend most of your life avoiding social situations that trigger anxiety. Your communication skills and confidence in your abilities may be affected as a result. This can lead to low self-esteem and increased anxiety.

Group therapy is a good place to develop social skills and reduce anxiety in a non-threatening environment.

In addition, other people with SAD may be the best people you have ever met.


The advantage of joining a group is that you have the opportunity to meet other people who have the same problem. Although not everyone will have the same trigger or severity of symptoms, it helps to know that you are not alone.

Group situations also allow you to play role-playing situations that are too threatening in real life to face immediately. This comfortable and safe environment is perfect for building confidence in social skills before you release them to the “real” world.

Where can I find the treatment team

Your doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional will usually refer you to the treatment team. If you have recently been diagnosed with SAD, your doctor or therapist may have recommended that you participate in cognitive behavioral group therapy for social anxiety.

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If you have not discussed with your doctor about how to cope with social anxiety disorder, try to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options, including group therapy.

Social anxiety disorder discussion guide

Get our printable guide to help you ask the right questions the next time you see a doctor.

Otherwise, you can find a treatment group in the Yellow Pages or through your local or national anxiety association.

Group treatment is usually covered by medical insurance, but it is best to check your coverage with your insurance company.

What to look for

If you were to participate in the ideal group therapy for SAD, what would you think? Here are some features that a great team would expect.

  • The group should consist only of people with social anxiety disorder. The treatment plan for SAD is different from other diseases and even other anxiety disorders.
  • Ideally, the group consists of no more than 6 people and is led by two therapists. This allows sufficient personal attention to each group member.
  • Ideally, the group’s age and gender should be mixed to allow more role-playing scenarios.
  • Since not everyone has the same fears, the structure of the course should enable everyone to practice situations that are problematic for them.
  • As far as the therapist leading the group is concerned, ideally, the person will have a thorough understanding of social anxiety disorder and experience in providing cognitive behavioral group therapy.

During your first visit to your therapist, you may want to ask about his/her experience with this disease and group therapy. If you don’t like asking these types of questions, it may be helpful to bring family or friends to support you.

Family members usually do not participate in cognitive behavioral group therapy. However, they can play an important role in assisting with homework and helping to monitor and reward your progress.

Processing technology

Usually, treatment will consist of a course of 12 to 24 weeks.

In the first meeting, the therapist will introduce the cognitive behavioral model of SAD and the basic principles behind the treatment.

In future courses, the group will focus on three main components: contact in the course, cognitive reorganization, and homework.

  1. get in touch with Occurs in conversation or in the real world. Exposure will break the cycle of anxiety, allowing you to stay in fear for long enough, and in repeated situations, you will naturally feel less anxiety. Through role-playing, the team can become an audience of nervous public speakers, the boss of people who are afraid of asking for a raise, and the romantic interest of people who are afraid of dating people-you get the idea.
  2. Cognitive reconstruction It usually occurs before, during, and after exposure (in conversation and in the real world) and gives you the opportunity to test dysfunctional beliefs. You will be asked to evaluate whether your ideas are helpful and to look at dire situations in a more adaptive way. In a group setting, the therapist will ask you how you felt or thought during the exposure.
  3. Work at home You will usually be asked to face real situations simulated in the role-playing process. You will also be asked to reflect on how to deal with anxiety in real life. In this way, you can play the role of the therapist and learn to think adaptively.

Some groups may even conduct field trips to practice in real life. For example, for people who are afraid to be the center of attention, you can go to the local shopping mall. Sitting in the food court. Then ask the group members to sing “Happy Birthday” to help this person overcome her fears.


At the end of group therapy, you may feel a little nervous about your ability to keep up with what you have learned. Some groups may offer intensive courses within a few months after treatment.

If at any time you feel that your symptoms are recovering, it usually only takes a few extra sessions to regain the improvement you have made.