Published on behalf of Group Member.
After quite a long wait I attended my first night at the social anxiety group. (If you are reading this I presume you know what I am talking about). With a little trepidation I “boldly plunged into the abyss” or at least that is way I was thinking about the first night, however with hindsight I can confidently say this was a perfect example of why I was going to the social anxiety group meeting; I was irrationally envisaging an impending “social event”
When I first entered I was surprised by the range of people. None of them fitted my “Biased” perception of what a social anxious person should look like. In fact they all struck me as “socially confident”. At first wondering if I was in the right place. But after confirming I had not made a mistake, I found solace in knowing that even apparently confident people suffer from social anxiety. Ironically it alleviated one of my primary reasons behind my social anxiety: “how others perceive me” (If I look socially anxious and I must be socially anxious”).
Odhran, a clinical psychologist, can best be described as the group facilitator, as opposed to a therapist, this helped make me feel quite at ease because: he calmly; he congenially explained the purpose of the group and told us we were not to fell pressurized in any way; and he gave a little insight into some of his own anxiety which allowed me to relate to him.
Odhran then got us to sit in pairs: he decided who should be paired together, which removed one of “social anxieties” when participating in groups, introducing myself to strangers. We asked each other the standard introductory questions: what is your name; where are you from etc… After about five minutes we all had to introduce our partner to the rest of the group; this helped me to confront another of my social anxiety fears: having to participate, verbally, within groups.
We then took a well-deserved break. (Confronting some of your social activity fears, albeit it in a very harmonious and tranquil manner is quite draining).
After the break Odhran, who always referred to us by name, explained the plan for the next number of weeks. He asked us to think about why we were attending the group and to email him our goals we hoped to attain while attending the group. Finally he asked us to write a page of our first night’s experience, which I have briefly summarized above.
In conclusion I can say that my initial fears about a social anxiety group were not founded and thanks to the easy going manner in which the meeting was facilitated and overall congeniality of the meeting, I will go to the next group meeting with less hesitation and apprehension.