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Birmingham Social Anxiety Group Pages

This group was set up as a social & a support group so that people who suffer with the debilitating disorder that is social anxiety may have the opportunity to meet other local people with the same condition, perhaps to find friendship and to share experiences.

Our therapy workshop meets every other Saturday at Birmingham Central Library and utilizes the principles of CBT and REBT as aids to recovery. We also run social events.


It is thought that about 2 million people in the UK are known to suffer with this condition, but the figure is probably much higher than that as many people remain undiagnosed. Social anxiety is a persistent and intense fear of social situations and the fear of being judged, being scrutinized or humiliated by others. This can be specific to one social situation or many more. See common provoking situations below. Of all the anxiety disorders, social anxiety is the most mis-understood by the public and the medical profession alike and many times GPs often mis-diagnose patients. Often labelled as just being shy, unsociable, aloof or rude and told to go get a life, sufferers can remain prisoners in their own home which sometimes can lead to agoraphobia or do manage to get outside but remain within their "mental prison" for years on end.

Although this disorder can be mistaken for shyness, the two are not the same. Shy people can be very nervous around others but they don't experience the extreme anxiety in anticipating a social situation and they don't necessarily avoid circumstances that make them feel self conscious. They don't suffer extreme thoughts or obsess themselves with self analyzing regarding a social situation they've attended, which on the otherhand can persist for days, months or even many years later for a person with social anxiety.

Social anxiety is an overwhelming fear, anxiety and self consciousness in everyday social situations which disrupts daily life. People having social anxiety realise their fears are extreme but are unable to control them. They may feel extremely reserved and anxious in social situations where they have to interact with others, such as work, parties, restaurants or when they meet new people. They may experience extreme dread before facing the feared situation and possibly go out of their way to avoid it. Even if they manage to confront what they fear, being uncomfortable throughout the situation is what commonly occurs. And afterwards, the unpleasant feelings may linger as they worry about how they may have been judged or what others may have thought or observed about them. Some people leave work, college, relationships, become depressed, abuse drugs or alcohol or become suicidal as a result of this disorder.


Being introduced to others

Speaking with strangers

Initiating or maintaining a conversation (with someone known/familiar)

Answering/making a call

Eating or drinking in public

Dating and developing close friendships

Public speaking or performing

Paying for/returning an item to a store

Attending and participating in a class, meeting or group setting

Interacting with employers and authority figures

Using public toilets

Attending social functions/parties

Being the centre of attention

Expressing an opinion


Automatic Negative Thinking

Heightened self consciousness

Obsessive racing thoughts



Panicky feelings

Intense fear

Difficulty making/maintaining eye contact

Mind going blank

Rapid heart beat

Difficulty speaking (inability)

Shaky voice

Dry throat and mouth

Difficulty swallowing

Shortness of breath


Muscle twitches/tension/face freezing

Nausea or abdominal distress


Feeling unreal or disconnected



Severe headaches

COMORBID CONDITIONS (disorders that might accompany social anxiety) obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, agoraphobia, avoidant personality disorder (APD), bipolar disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), body dysmorphic disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse, specific phobias.



CBT (Cognitive Behaviourial Therapy). Link to wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.o...

REBT (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy). Link to wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.o...

Rational New Zealand: An excellent website covering most of the aspects of CBT and REBT. http://www.rational.o...
This is the website that most of the concepts we discuss in group will be taken from.

Centre for Clinical Interventions. Another really useful site with lots of workbooks. Check out the one called Shy No Longer.

Succeed Socially. This guy is a star. He's broken everything down. How to make friends, dealing with nerves, improving your social skills, etc. This is an excellent resource. http://www.succeedsoc...

If you are looking for a therapist this web page has some links http://www.rebt.bham....

Self Help books, gradual exposure to feared situations.
Links to recommended books
A Guide to Rational Living; An excellent book on dealing with irrational thoughts.
This book is fairly decent Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness
This little gem of a book is full of ideas for what to do with all your leisure time The Joy of Not Working
This short movie by Brian Dunning is an excellent introduction to critical thinking. He succinctly explains the errors in cognition we are all prone to. It will help you get your head around the concept of irrational thinking. He's very much against alternative medicine which is understandable given that there are so many charlatans out there as well as those that use their skills for their own ends rather than to help others. http://herebedragonsm... The media player on the website is a bit prone to sticking so it would be better if you download the movie and watch it later.

Self-help programs/cds:
There is an excellent set of cd's available from the Social Anxiety Institute in America. Have a look at the website and see what you think.http://www.socialanxi...
I will warn you though it takes a lot of self-discipline to complete the series and do all the exercises. Plus Dr Richards has one of the most boring voices on the planet. There was a comedic charm to his voice for me though because he sounds like Elmer Fudd on mogadon.
But those quibbles aside they are an excellent set of cd's.

There is also a decent set of self help help material called Attacking Anxiety and Depression by Lucinda Bassett and the Midwest Center. http://www.stresscent... Now this brief review relates only to the audio part of the program and it was an old set of tapes that I listened to. So I don't know what the updated material is like. I'm hoping that they haven't jumped on the complementary health bandwagon and incorporated a lot of woo into the program. They're not quite as intensive as Dr Richards and I have one or two minor quibbles with some of the material but those quibbles aside it's one of the better products on the market. She has a pleasant conversational style in contrast with Dr Richards' pedestrian delivery. What really stood out for me with Bassett's program was the relaxation tape it's an excellent resource. I just hope they haven't changed it. So it's really a matter of taste as to which program to go for. Again though it takes a lot of self-discipline to complete the series. And neither package is cheap.

Exercise and diet


This is a decent website It's got a forum and a chat room so you can do some online social practicing. Just be careful that you don't get drawn into anybody's negativity.

Nonsense therapies

Avoid the following. Links are provided for further reading.

Subliminal tapes,

E.M.D.R. (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing,


Therapeutic Touch, http://www.quackwatch...
Variants of Therapeutic Touch
Thought Field Therapy and Emotional Freedom Techniques
Crystal healing
Indian Head Massage


Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)


Homeopathy http://www.quackwatch...

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Page title Most recent update Last edited by
About Birmingham Social Anxiety Group June 20, 2011 11:43 AM anonymous

Birmingham, United Kingdom

Founded Oct 8, 2007


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