Magazine article Psychology Today

Opening Up

Magazine article Psychology Today

Opening Up

Article excerpt

THE MIRROR IN WHICH a self-image takes shape is distorted for people with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Lynn Alden, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia, says her patients describe themselves as 'awkward' and 'unskilled," and this kind of negative self-perception may feed a debilitatingaversion to social situations. New research raises some potential ways to address this anxiety more effectively. -COLLEEN PARK

FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE

Although they represent different approaches, cognitive behavioral group therapy and mindfulnessbased stress reduction were both found to lessen negative self-perceptions in SAD patients and to boost positive ones, according to a recent paper in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders. Researchers found that an increase in one's favorable self-views predicted a reduction of SAD symptoms, which include fear or avoidance of eating in a public place and of meeting strangers.

REVISE THE SELF-IMAGE

Compared to others, socially anxious people may be less kind to themselves as they process and recall social feedback. Cognitive neuroscientist Leonie Koban and colleagues had both SAD individuals and control groups give speeches and receive ratings from judges, which allowed the researchers to examine affective updating-how people adjust their feelings about themselves. …

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