Social Phobia, Social Anxiety

Social Phobia, Social Anxiety: Extreme shyness, what you can do about a persistent irrational fear of social situations. Conference transcript.

Luann Linquist

Dr. Luann Linquist, discusses what you can do about a persistent irrational fear of social situations. When it comes to social phobia, social anxiety (some refer to it as extreme shyness), the outcome is generally good with treatment.

David: moderator.

The people in blue are audience members.

David: Good Evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to Our guest is psychologist Luann Linquist and our topic tonight is "Social Phobia, Social Anxiety".

People who experience "Social Phobia, Social Anxiety" become very anxious when facing certain social situations. They desperately fear becoming humiliated in social situations, specifically of embarrassing themselves in front of other people. In case some of you were wondering if you're the only ones suffering from this debilitating disorder, about 8% suffer from some form of social anxiety at any given time.

Our guest, Dr. Luann Linquist, has been in practice for over 20 years and works with Anxiety and Phobia patients. She uses various "brief therapy" techniques, including one called the "Delete Technique," which we'll talk about later.

Good evening Dr. Linquist and welcome to What is it that causes someone to have a fear of social situations; to be a social phobic?

Dr. Linquist: There are several causes. There is usually a family of origin connection or a major incident of abuse embarrassment. The usual onset is mid-teens to early childhood.

David: I read somewhere that people who suffer from social anxiety usually have another disorder along with that. In many cases, either depression or an addiction, like alcoholism. Is that your experience with your clients?

Dr. Linquist: No, that is not my experience with my clients. Anxiety and panic are usually very prominent.

David: Individuals who suffer from social anxiety, are they afraid of only certain situations or is it most social situations that cause severe anxiety?

Dr. Linquist: There is a range of suffering, from one type of situation like public speaking to a generalized suffering under any social situation. For instance, many men and women suffer from the inability to use public bathrooms.

David: What types of treatment for social phobia are available and which are most effective?

Dr. Linquist: The traditional treatment is desensitization, a newer one is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and my specialty is DELETE Techniques.

David: Can you briefly describe each, their purpose and how they work?

Dr. Linquist: Sure. The first one, desensitization, exposes people to the situation that is producing the anxiety and panic. This is usually a graduated process over a period of time.

The second is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which I'm certified to do. It is based on the healing response from REM sleep.

The third is a process that is teaching people how to use their own 'delete' button to get rid of unwanted thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, quickly.

Many people have found relief and freedom from all three of the methods. DELETE is my favorite and gives the best results quickly.

David: Before we start taking audience questions, I want to mention a site note:

Here's the link to the Anxiety-Panic Community. You can click on this link and sign up for the anxiety mail list at the top of the page so you can keep up with events like this.

And now, here are some audience questions Dr. Linquist:

bigmac: I have been suffering from social anxiety for over 10 years and have tried practically all antidepressants. However, none of them seem to do any good. Any suggestions?

Dr. Linquist: Medications, without addressing your thoughts, feelings and beliefs is obviously not doing the job. Find a good therapist.

I help people every day who are caught up in the 'swirl' of their thoughts. There is an ongoing battle and habit of going over-and-over the same limited thinking. It's like a knot with no beginning and no ending. What is needed is a way to break through that thinking and get rid of it...NOW!

Tray: I have just recently read a book by a physician and he believes anxiety and panic are actually diseases of the brain we are born with. Do you have an opinion on this?

Dr. Linquist: There is research to indicate this is true. In addition, researchers have also found that some causes of anxiety and panic are situational in nature--the result of being exposed to possibly a traumatic incident.

David: One of the questions I received, Dr. Linquist, is: how does one find a good therapist experienced in treating social anxiety?

Dr. Linquist: Traditional ways are to ask your medical doctor, look in the phone book, and make some calls. Now, you can look on the Internet.

KayCee: I'm having marital problems, I've had social anxiety all my life, I don't have any really close friends or family, no support system, I'm thinking of leaving my husband but am so scared of being alone, and having no one in my life. Do you have any advice for me? I come to the anxiety chat room here often, but I just don't think that's enough."

Dr. Linquist: Well, if you think coming to the anxiety chatroom is not enough, it probably isn't. It's certainly not the same as talking one-on-one and hearing the interaction voice responses. Really, you may consider going to a marital therapist and also learn how to form a small support system. One of the signs of good mental health is having a support system of at least 3 people. I'd like to see you grow strong enough to tolerate being alone before you jump out into a non-support situation.

Lillylou: What is meant by delete techniques?

David: And can you go into a bit more detail about how that works?

Dr. Linquist: It's an experiential process that helps you get rid of unwanted thoughts, feelings, and beliefs....quickly. You've heard that we only use a small portion of our brain power. Well, DELETE teaches you how to use a method you use all the time unconsciously, and use it consciously.

Chris B: Can an embarrassing, frightening moment happen when a person is very young, disappear and then surface again years later?

Dr. Linquist: YES! Happens all the time. One executive I'm working with on the phone is now able to speak in front of groups. When I first started working with him, it was difficult for him to talk to anyone who didn't work in the company.

Michelle6: Why would one bad experience in a social situation cause a lifetime of social panic?

Dr. Linquist: Because when this happens to a small child, that child makes a decision as best they can about life. Then, they learn all sorts of ways to compensate, hide, overcome (seemingly) all situations. And then, the original situation bubbles up --seemingly out of nowhere. It's a matter of undoing the original thoughts by dealing with the ones that are coming to mind presently.

jamesjr1962: I have a learning disability and have been told I have a mild depression. I now stay at home for days at a time and never leave (for example: I haven't left home since Sunday) plus I have trouble with long-term relationships. Is this a social problem or do you think there is another problem?

Dr. Linquist: Sounds like you have several things going on here. One of the best antidotes for depression is to get out and help --volunteer someplace-- any place. I'm so proud of my 40 year old mentally retarded niece who attends gathering, meetings, helping in minor ways, but giving whatever help she can.

Sharon1: What is the difference between panic disorder and social anxiety?

Dr. Linquist: They can both be present in the same person. Not everyone who has panic is social phobic. However, most people who have social anxiety avoid panic by not getting into situations that trigger them.

David: Have you seen people make a complete recovery? And secondly, do you feel anti-anxiety medications are helpful to those who suffer from social phobia?

Dr. Linquist: Some people choose to use medication. I'm not a medical doctor, so I don't advise to either way.

And yes, I've completed hundreds of DELETEs with a 95% success rate. Most of my clients have panic, anxiety and one of the phobias.

David: And do people make a complete recovery, or is it really something that's managed, in the sense of recovering from an addiction, lets say?

Dr. Linquist: People can and do find relief and freedom from anxiety, panic, and phobias. Certainly, if they re-connect with the same situation, there may seem to be a relapse. However, if they follow a good program, they can have the freedom again.

psilocybe: Is cognitive-behavioral therapy the best treatment for social phobia? Also, is group therapy better than individual therapy?

Dr. Linquist: Cognitive therapy is a part of my work, and it depends on the therapist. However, a phobia (social anxiety) is irrational by definition. Have you ever tried to be rational with an irrational person? What happens is they will out-irrationalize you every time.

People with anxiety, panic, phobias are fighting within themselves all the time ---part one is the rational side and part 2 is the irrational side. You already know who is going to win. That's why undoing the 'Gordian Knot ' of unwanted thoughts, feelings, and beliefs is so important. The Gordian Knot has no beginning and no end. Just one continuous same old tape, over-and-over.

TarynUpAlbertane: My parents think I'm just shy (I'm 15) and should get over social anxiety. How can I convince them that it's more than that?

Dr. Linquist: Don't you just love it when someone says "get over it"! when you are bleeding inside?

Taryn--talk to a school counselor or another adult you trust, reach out to someone else who may be able to help you with the problem and with your parents.

David: Dr. Linquist's website is: for those of you who want more info on the Delete method. Dr. Linquist can help you with that over the phone.

I'm also wondering if from social phobia one can develop agoraphobia?

Dr. Linquist: Absolutely! Phobias grow unless they are pulled out...stomped on...blown up...or DELETED!

Agoraphobia is usually a combination of several phobias.

David: Here are two similar questions about EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing):

nadineSeattle: Can you explain in more detail what EMDR is?

Amber13: Can this EMDR help other phobias, as it does with social phobia? How does it work and where can one go for it?

Dr. Linquist: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR, has a web site. In there, you will find an additional explanation of EMDR. Also you will be referred to a clinician (you might be referred to me, because I'm certified to do EMDR).

There are also various EMDR books (like this, but you can search for more) available.

Depends on the therapist and client, as to whether EMDR works for phobias.

WhatsUp 75766858http: I'm visually challenged and I'm self-conscious about my social skills and to some people I'm different. How do I improve my social skills?

Dr. Linquist: Get a mentor or femtor to teach you about social skills. This person would go with you to social places and practice with you. A good friend might be just the support for that.

lbzorro80: I am a pianist and suffer from performance anxiety. My heart races, my legs go weak, and my hands tremble. This severely hinders my performance. I have tried breathing techniques and positive thinking and nothing helps. I can't afford therapy. Any help?

Dr. Linquist: Yes, the breathing and positive thinking are great ---and you are right--- not enough. It's like having a bunch of wonderful new red apples, then you put them in a barrel with a bunch of old rotting apples, and you know what's going to happen. The stinking thinking will come up and spoil your affirmations.

You can't afford therapy? Can you afford not to afford therapy? Play the piano more and earn some bucks. There are many resources that have a sliding scale; for instance, your county mental health center, or try a local medical school where they psychiatric residents work at a significantly reduced fee.

sordid_goddess: I have had Separation Anxiety Disorder (S.A.D.) for over two years now, but was only recently diagnosed. After being put first on Paxil, then trying Effexor, I gave up on both and decided to try mind over matter. Do you suggest this? Because ironically, I am doing 100x better now than when I was taking anything. I am pretty much recovering from S.A.D. solely from talking to mentors and using mind over matter, but I am still very dependant on others to go places with me. Is there anything I can try that will ease me away from being so reliant? (I'm 17, by the way).

Dr. Linquist: Hey---you're doing great. You are using your very powerful mind successfully. Congratulations! Give yourself some time to become very solid in your new recovery, then think about taking the next step.

TIPCrys: Are there certain other disorders that seem to have a high correlation with social phobia? If so, what major complications usually have to be dealt with?

Dr. Liuistnq: WOW, that's an 'open the book and let all the disorders fall out' question. The physical symptoms and conditions of stress are the major complications.

Catrina: Do you think Gestalt Therapy could be a good challenge for someone with social phobia?

Dr. Linquist: Sure. Again, it depends on you and the therapist.

David: I want to thank Dr. Linquist for being our guest tonight and answering everyone's questions. For more information on Dr. Linquist and the Delete technique, you can visit her website at:

I also want to thank everyone in the audience for coming and participating. I hope you found it helpful.

Thanks again Dr. Linquist.

Dr. Linquist: You are welcome.

David: Good night everyone.

Disclaimer: We are not recommending or endorsing any of the suggestions of our guest. In fact, we strongly encourage you to talk over any therapies, remedies or suggestions with your doctor BEFORE you implement them or make any changes in your treatment.


APA Reference
Gluck, S. (2007, February 24). Social Phobia, Social Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Last Updated: May 14, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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