Q. Do you only have telephone support groups?
A. No. We have local face to face supports group as well (and are planning to start more) as well as the telephone conference call support groups. Both types of groups can help greatly in overcoming social anxiety problems. We have found that is is not exposure alone, but rather utilizing the numerous tools and concept of recovery shared in our support groups, that are the key to greatly reducing or elimination social anxiety problems.
We can also help you start your own local (face to face) support group in your own town. We are a not-for-profit organization and the help we give you is free. There is an entire section of our website dedicated to listing Free Social Anxiety Anonymous support groups for overcoming social anxiety problems and another entire section that has Useful Tips On How To Start Your Own Local SPA Support Group.
Q. Can a telephone support group really help me in overcoming social my anxiety?
A. Yes– Very much so! The knowledge, wisdom (and healing) that we receive in the telephone support groups carry over into our face-to-face interactions in our daily lives, so the telephone groups actually help all aspects of our social anxiety and the psychological benefits gradually begin to stay with us throughout each week. Exposure alone doesn’t really help social anxiety (consider all the years, and all the exposure you have been through without getting free of the problem). Instead it is through using the tools of recovery (on a consistent and ongoing basis) in a gentle but persistent way (both inside of our own minds as well as in our actions) that we find true long-term recovery from social anxiety problems.
Q. Is it really free?
A. Yes. We are a volunteer run organization and we charge nothing. We make zero money. Our telephone conference service (that we use for our telephone support groups) is also free (we get it for free and we let you use it for free), but you will have to make a normal long distance call (using your own long distance service) to reach our conference service (which is located in the USA). You can also call into it from anywhere using “Skype” (internet telephone) or similar services.
Q. How do I get the access code and the instructions for how to call in to the support groups?
A. You can Just Click Here (And then Scroll Down to get the info Or call 970-222-5380 and leave a message. Group Times don’t work for you? You can start your own Social Anxiety Anonymous group meeting time and we will help you!
Q. If the 12 Steps are taken from Alcoholics Anonymous– then how can they also help in overcoming social anxiety (or related problems like social phobia or shyness or avoidant personality disorder or APD or paruresis)?
A. When Alcoholics stop drinking, they suffer from a great deal of anxiety. When a drunk tries to stop drinking by him or herself, they quickly find themselves plagued by chronic and sometimes even crippling fears and obsessions. Without a recovery program like the 12 steps, this alcoholic anxiety syndrome can literally go on for years.
Consequently, when the 12 steps were first created 60 years ago, they were designed specifically to reduce or eliminate the anxiety and obsessions that plagued recovering Alcoholics.
So what does this have to do with people who have Socially Phobia or social anxiety problems? **Well– 32 years ago, some people who were NOT alcoholics but who HAD anxiety disorders began applying the A.A. 12 steps to other (nonalcoholic) anxiety problemswith excellent results.
These people discovered that the 12 steps were just as effective for other anxiety disorders as they were for alcoholic anxiety syndrome!
Soon anxiety 12 step programs (like Emotions Anonymous) had spread to nearly 30 states, Canada and Europe. And anxiety recovery stories started coming in from around the world.
More recently, some people decided to try applying the 12 steps specifically to Social Anxiety problems and it was found that yet again– the 12 steps were very effective in helping people to overcome their social anxiety!
Q. Are the 12 steps a religious program?
A. No. The 12 steps do not require one to follow any religion. However people using the 12 steps have the option of developing their own personally defined faith as part of their recovery process.
For some people in 12 step programs, this faith takes the form of belief in some kind of spiritual ‘Higher Power’.
But for others, the higher power may simply be the wisdom of the support group, or faith in (G)ood (O)rderly (D)irection (G.O.D.) rather than a spiritual GOD. So YES– one can be an athiest and work the 12 steps. There have always been many athiests or agnostics in the 12 step programs.
We have found that regardless of how one personally goes about it, simply developing faith in something positive is one way that we change our negative thinking and begin to heal our social anxiety problems.
Q. What kind of social anxiety problems can Social Phobics Anonymous help and what kind of social anxiety problems are welcome at the support group meetings?
A. Any kind– whether you have Social Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, Avoidant Personality Disorder, APD, Chronic Shyness or Paruresis doesn’t matter. If you have problems with social fears –in any way shape or form– you are welcome in Social Phobics Anonymous support group meetings and the groups may be able to help your problem (especially if you attend the support groups on a regular basis).
Q. What is the schedule that I work the 12 steps on (one step a week or one step a month or how fast?)
A. There is no schedule. One works the 12 steps at their own pace. We take each step individually when we feel ready and willing to do so and not because anyone has told us to take an action.
Q. Do I have to talk in the support groups?
A. No. Since we are socially anxious, some of us may be afraid to speak in the meetings. The good news is, we can benefit from just listening. We don’t have to speak if we don’t yet feel ready to.
Q. Does Social Phobics Anonymous oppose other treatment modalities or use of medications?
A. We do not oppose any treatments for social anxiety. We believe that this is strictly a personal matter. Because we are a volunteer run organization, we can not endorse but neither are we opposed to other treatments for social anxiety. We do encourage people to make careful, personally informed and self-educated decisions about their health, but that’s as far as we go.
Additionally, many of us successfully use a combination of treatment and recovery approaches– with good results.
Q. Do I have to sign up for a Social Phobics Anonymous support group or register for or officially join?
A. No. Social Phobics Anonymous has no sign up requirements. One can just attend our support group meetings whenever one wants to.
Q. Am I required to attend a certain number of Social Phobics Anonymous support group meetings?
A. No. No one takes attendence and you simply go to (or call in to) SPA support group meetings when you want to. However, it is suggested that you try to attend SPA groups regularly since this will increase your likelyhood of recovery from social anxiety.
Q. I would like to start a local support group but I have no experience and I still have a lot of social anxiety.
A. The great thing about social phobics anonymous support groups is that they are structured so that the person starting the group doesn’t have to know anything. We start each group meeting by simply reading aloud from the 3 books recommended by Social Phobics Anonymous in the meeting (for the first 20-25 minutes) and then the group opens up for individual sharing (with no cross talk, casual discussion then follows at the end of the meeting). A number of us have found that the mere act of starting a group, and then working through that to help others (on a consistent and ongoing basis) have been greatly helped in the process in overcoming their own social anxiety symptoms.
Following this format in the groups, so much knowledge gets read aloud out of the books that in the beginning, you don’t have to know anything!
Additionally– as we mentioned, experience has shown us over and over again that people who start support groups tend to get a lot of recovery from anxiety. The very act of starting and facilitating support groups seems to have a powerful healing effect on the people who start the groups!
More information on how one starts a local support group is in our How To Start Your Own Local Social Phobics Anonymous Support Group section.
Q. I have always been a person of religion or some kind of faith, and yet I have social anxiety or social phobia anyway– so how can the 12 steps help me?
A. It is not faith alone but the quality and focus of that faith that can help to eliminate your social anxiety problems. Regardless of ones’ personal faith tradition, the 12 steps can help you to focus and apply your faith in a way that works to actually eradicate your social fears.
Q. I am afraid I will be judged or criticised in the Social Phobics Anonymous support group meetings so how can I attend?
A. People in the Social Phobics Anonymous support groups understand the fear of being judged or criticised– because they have had these fears themselves.
Consequently, you will find our groups to be exceptionally welcoming and understanding. We who have known the pain of imagined and real criticism tend to be very understanding and patient with fellow Social Anxiey sufferers.
Q. In the telephone conference call support groups, will anyone know my identity?
No. Caller ID does not work through the conference call bridges that we use. Also, in Social Phobics Anonymous we do not use our last names (whether in telephone support groups or local, face-to-face support groups) in order to protect group participants privacy.
Q. Does it work? Will this really help me get over my social anxiety problems?
A. Yes! It really can work! This can eventually greatly reduce or even eliminate ones social anxiety problems. Many have experienced this themselves and have testified that starting a support group was one of the most effective things that they have ever done in overcoming their own social anxiety problems.
And it was easier than I thought it would be! It just took a little patience and a willingness to show up without fail every week (on time) and read quietly to myself when others did not come. Eventually they did and now I have a family of recovering friends. Of course each case is individual and we each have to find the recovery or treatment modality that works best for us personally.
There is really no mystery here, all that was missing was the Social Anxiety fellowship, working as a community on the 12 step path…
The result was that we began to experience the joy of being freed from the prison of our social anxiety.
The end of years painful social isolation and the wonderful ability to enjoy precious friendships, to end unneccesary sepration from relatives, to go to work with dignity and a healthy pride and perhaps to even experience the sacred privilidge of an intimate relationship for the first time in years. Overcoming social anxiety through gently utilizing the 12 Steps can do all of these things!
These are just some of the many gifts that can come from putting social anxiety recovery out front where it belongs and giving oneself the gift of a fellowship entirely focused on using the 12 steps to gain release from this sad and bitter syndrome. Share
Our meetings, both in the telephone support groups are available each week!
Starting new local meetings is also an option that can be a tremendously rewarding and healing experience..
Let us keep passing the word and let us together shine the light of the 12 steps on this dark corner of our lives!
Let us come together, and start the gentle work of setting ourselves free.Share
“Alone, my anxiety is stronger than me. Together, we are stronger than our anxiety!”
Please note: Although Social Anxiety Anonymous makes no public affiliations, there are many truly wonderful, valuable and worthwhile written sources of self-help (or famous self-help leaders) in both the commercial and / or more publicized non-profit sector and we never mean to discourage anyone from availing themselves of such helping resources in their personal lives.