Are you shy, unassertive, or find situations where you have to socialize or publicly interact with people crippling? If so, you may suffer from social anxiety disorder.
“Healthy people have a little social anxiety from time to time,” says Larry Cohen, a licensed independent clinical social worker who practices in Washington, D.C. “But social anxiety disorder is where the fear of judgment is so severe that it makes it extremely hard, if not impossible, to pursue at least one area of life.”
Cohen advises that people who are worried about whether they may have social anxiety should ask, “Is my anxiety getting in the way of pursuing something that’s important to me?”
“Social anxiety is where the fear of judgment is in some way debilitating [or] causes some type of significant problem, whether it’s preventing a person from pursuing their career, pursuing friendships, pursuing intimate relationships,” Cohen says. “For some people with more severe forms of social anxiety, even just being out and about, around people, leads them to be self-conscious.”
Cohen has been holding workshops on social anxiety since the 1990s, and says he used to treat a significant number of LGBTQ people. As societal acceptance has grown, there’s a lot less social anxiety within the community, but some still experience severe forms of stress in social settings.
On July 26, Cohen will hold an educational workshop introducing people to what social anxiety is, what fuels it, the self-defeating actions that people with anxiety may take to cope with stress, and the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy to treat the problem. Cohen can accept up to 35 people into the workshop, which will be held at a private residence in Northwest D.C. Attendees are required to pre-register for the event to reserve a spot.
Mindful of the stress that some may face in group situations, Cohen does not require anyone to talk or interact at the workshop. But those who want to pursue therapy are welcome to discuss options with Cohen afterwards.
“I just want to stress that it’s not an infomercial, so people can come even if they’re not planning on doing therapy,” says Cohen. “It’s an educational session that people who have social anxiety may be interested in attending.”
Larry Cohen’s free informational workshop on social anxiety will be held Friday, July 26, from 7-9 p.m. at a private residence in Northwest D.C. More details will be provided after registration. To register, or for more information, call 202-244-0903 or visit www.socialanxietyhelp.com.