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12 March 2004

Helping someone with social phobia

The support, encouragement and understanding of family and friends helps the recovery of a social phobia sufferer immeasurably. Here are guidelines to help someone suffering from social phobia.

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The support, encouragement and understanding of family and friends helps the recovery of a social phobia sufferer immeasurably. You may wish to follow the guidelines listed below if you would like to help a friend or relative who may be suffering from social phobia:
  • Learn more about the disorder.
  • Acknowledge that there is a real problem - Social Phobia is not merely a severe form of shyness, but a medical condition that should be taken seriously.
  • Be understanding: Recognise that allowing a sufferer to explain their problems will help him or her to feel less isolated and ashamed of their condition.
  • Do not regard Social Phobia as the fault of any particular person. Neither you nor the sufferer are to blame for the condition.
  • Gently encourage the sufferer to seek professional help. Acknowledge that this may be a difficult decision, keeping in mind that the very nature of Social Phobia often means that sufferers are afraid to seek help from strangers.
  • Once treatment is initiated, encourage the sufferer to persist and continue with treatment. Recognise and show your appreciation for any improvement, no matter how small.
  • As treatment begins to take effect, the sufferer will be encouraged to begin facing up to fearful situations and locations. Your support and understanding in this regard is vital.
  • While at home, sufferers should he encouraged to maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible. Do not adapt your lifestyle to fit in with their fears and anxieties.

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