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18 May 2024

What is social anxiety and how can hypnotherapy help?

Social anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety. It affects literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people across the UK.

Every week, as they stand in front of friends, strangers, or workmates, they feel overwhelmed, filled with dread, afraid, or simply in over their heads.

This is the cruel truth of social anxiety. It makes you feel like you would rather be anywhere other than you already are, even if a large part of you would actually like to stay. Social anxiety is rooted in a lack of self-confidence, and/or a fear of specific things that have happened in the past.

The good news is that over many years now, hypnotherapy has proven itself as a very effective way to treat social anxiety.

Understanding the symptoms of social anxiety

Whether I am conducting online hypnotherapy sessions or meeting people face-to-face, the stories of clients who come to see me with social anxiety often have certain similarities.

I have now conducted more than 5,000 sessions of hypnotherapy and feel qualified to talk about this – not least because Women’s Health magazine called me “a pioneer of digital hypnotherapy”!

The symptoms of social anxiety are very similar to those experienced with other types of anxiety. They include:

Physical symptoms

Rapid heartbeat.



Shortness of breath.



Behavioural symptoms

Avoiding social situations.

Difficulty speaking in public.

Withdrawing from conversations or failing to speak up.

Limited eye contact.

Cognitive symptoms (what is going on in the mind)

Fear of judgement.

Catastrophic thinking/catastrophising.

Intrusive thoughts.

Fear of rejection.

What can happen as a result of social anxiety?

The saddest aspect of social anxiety is that it can cause someone to become withdrawn. When you feel uncomfortable in the presence of others, a natural response may be to seek solace in your own space.

While this can give you a sense of safety, it can also prevent you from ever having to push yourself or become more capable of dealing with the symptoms associated with social anxiety.

Self-isolation is completely understandable. But it does nothing to alleviate the situation or help with recovery. Avoidance is rarely the answer to something that is bothering you.

In more extreme cases, social anxiety can lead to:

Professional difficulties or demotion

People with severe social anxiety often fail to put themselves forward. They are perceived by their bosses as being incapable of performing to a higher level. As a result, they are not deemed worthy of promotion.

Ever decreasing levels of self-confidence

When you have a constant fear of being judged, it can negatively impact your self-esteem and your confidence levels. This can lead to severe difficulties when trying to interact with others. The net result can be…

Complete reclusiveness

In which you shun social interactions outright.

What is the hypnotherapeutic approach to social anxiety?

When I help people with social anxiety, everything starts with a free consultation. Over the course of 20 minutes, clients have a golden opportunity to understand how hypnotherapy works.

It is also the perfect opportunity for me to assess whether or not I think that you will be a good candidate.

This has nothing to do with personal preferences. It is more an analysis of your commitment to the process and your levels of belief in whether or not it will work.

It does not embarrass me in the slightest to say that there is a strong placebo aspect to hypnotherapy. Any hypnotherapist will tell you that those who believe it will work have the strongest chances of seeing success.

During your session, which can be conducted over Zoom or take place face-to-face in London or Winchester, where I have hypnotherapy practices, we will typically look at the following:

Your inner critic

Social anxiety thrives on the relentless nastiness of your inner critic. During hypnotherapy, I help clients to reframe the way they think about things and find a more positive persona.

Your history

In most cases, your social anxiety will stem from events in the past that caused you distress. As a result, your mind goes into overdrive, and you enter ‘fight or flight’ mode every time you anticipate an event of a similar nature. During hypnosis, you become much more suggestible, which means that it is often possible to completely rewire the way you respond to things.

Your future

A pre-session questionnaire helps me to see what success looks like for you. Your treatment will be tailored in such a way as for you to embark on a path towards attainable results that are meaningful.

How is hypnotherapy different from other methods of alternative therapy?

As many people know, there are strong medications that are available from your GP that can help with all kinds of anxiety. These, however, come with a cost. And by cost, I don’t mean the price of your prescription – I mean the potential long-term negatives that are associated with certain anxiety drugs.

Complementary therapy such as hypnotherapy offers a way to avoid drugs entirely. Another common approach that doesn’t take the medication path is cognitive behavioural therapy, also known as CBT.

This can be highly effective, though it does require ongoing commitment – and many sessions are typically required before change is seen.

Many people find the rapid nature of hypnotherapy to be highly appealing as an alternative. In many cases, just one or two sessions are sufficient for dramatic change.

Other ways to lower your stress levels in social situations

The default for many people who want to address their social anxiety is to ply themselves with alcohol before an event. While this can certainly help to lower your stress levels for the next hour or two, it is obviously not recommended as a long-term solution.

One of the big issues with this approach is that the things you say and do when under the influence may come back to haunt you in the small hours. This can seriously intensify your social anxiety, because you then start to worry about everything you ever say.

A more sensible approach is to better prepare yourself for social settings. There are several tools that can be used by anyone that can really help you to feel more in control when about to embark on a social engagement.

One of the best I know and use is called Havening, which is thoroughly detailed in these pages.

In the short term, as you try to improve your comfort levels in social settings, try and create a social environment that works for you. Specifically, I mean interacting with a small group of people that you feel comfortable with. If you can build up some confidence in this way, it may give you more faith in your abilities to cope in a larger crowd.

Positive mantras that can quietly be said in your head before entering a room full of colleagues or strangers can also help. Again, I have written blogs about mantras in the past that you may find helpful.

The key here is that social anxiety is very common, but it doesn’t need to be something that you simply accept. Professional help and self-help can go a long way in changing how you feel in social settings.

If you would like to book your consultation and also get a FREE 20-minute deep relaxation download of mine, please just fill in my contact form or call 0800 122 3073. Hypnotherapy sessions can take place at my practices in London and Winchester – or, for maximum convenience, online.

Get your FREE consultation & FREE download (value £50) today.

Arrange your free consultation to see how Hypnotherapy can help you. We’ll also give you a free ‘Accelerated Relaxation Audio Programme’ worth £17.99.

Arrange your free consultation to see how Hypnotherapy can help you. We’ll also give you a free ‘Accelerated Relaxation Audio Programme’ worth £17.99.
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