How To Overcome Fear of Public Speaking and Social Anxiety: Treatment Groups

by Cheryl Mathews
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Why therapy groups are so important for overcoming public speaking fear or social anxiety.

Groups build your confidence.

The best way to overcome public speaking anxiety is to manage the fear process in a group with others who share your fear and with a sensitive coach who can help you apply those fear management techniques in the right way. These groups are basically safe laboratories (labs) where you can practice controlling fear without the pressure of a real-life situation.

One of the key benefits is that you build confidence. You build confidence when you start doing something that you once thought you could not do. And you actually see yourself do it. There’s nothing like that for building confidence. That’s what happens in these groups. That’s a wonderful benefit.

Groups literally can change your nervous system.

The other benefit is that the group experience can actually help you change your brain and nervous system.

One of the most interesting discoveries in brain science over the last few decades is “neuroplasticity.” Your brain and your biology can actually change based on what you’re experiencing. We know that doing specific brain exercises can change the size of certain areas of your brain. For example, a larger amygdala (controls anxiety) = higher levels of anxiety. MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness and mediation practice, the amygdala got smaller.

So it’s interesting that you can start off with a certain genetic makeup, but experiences, thoughts and behaviors can change your brain and your biology. Not only can the size of certain areas of your brain change, but the connections (re-wiring) between sections can change (for example, connections from the amygdala to brain areas responsible for perception can get stronger or weaker depending on your experiences). Thoughts and experiences also change your brain chemistry.

The Public Speaking Fear & Phobia Program and Social Anxiety Program focuses on changing your brain and nervous system so you can trigger more of a relaxation response rather than a fear response in public speaking and social situations.

Feel free to leave questions or comments below.

Research References

Bergland, C. (2013, November 20). The Size and Connectivity of the Amygdala Predicts Anxiety. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201311/the-size-and-connectivity-the-amygdala-predicts-anxiety

Davidson, R. J., & Begley, S. (2012). The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live–and How You Can Change Them. New York, New York: Penguin Group.

Siegel, D. J. (2010). Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. New York, New York: Bantam.

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