Group Therapy for Social Anxiety

A left chevron arrow
All Group Therapy Programs

At a glance:

A green circle with a white calendar inside
Next Intake
April 2024
Course Duration
10 Sessions
, one session
two weeks
Fees and Costs
  • $110 per session
  • Eligable for Medicare
Session Length
90 minuets
per session

Group Therapy for Social Anxiety

One of the most challenging aspects of social anxiety disorder (SAD) are the thoughts that come with the experience. People struggling with social anxiety experience a barrage of negative self-judgments and the fear that others view them in that same negative light. Over time, these self-judgments lead to avoidant behaviours such as disengagement in social interactions, substance use in order to engage, or avoidance of social situations altogether. Numerous methods have been proposed around how to work effectively with the thoughts that come with social anxiety. One such approach, called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or “act”, is a well-researched and evidence-based practice with a proven track record of long-term sustainable results at long-term follow-up and a reduction in rates of relapse.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Social Anxiety

ACT offers an empowering approach that puts the patient back in the driver’s seat to address social anxiety. Beyond symptom reduction, ACT provides practical tools and skills that pave the way to a more meaningful and fulfilling life. One of the fundamental benefits of ACT lies in its emphasis on acceptance. Rather than struggling against or suppressing anxious thoughts and emotions, individuals learn to acknowledge and accept them. This way, ACT directly addresses a common hurdle known as experiential avoidance – the tendency to evade or avoid uncomfortable emotions and situations at all costs -which is highly prevalent among people with social anxiety and often perpetuates social anxiety symptoms. By embracing the present moment through mindfulness practices, individuals develop a greater awareness of their thoughts and feelings. This heightened awareness fosters a sense of clarity and distance, enabling them to respond more skillfully to challenging situations. The result is reduced reactive behaviours and an increased ability to choose responses aligned with personal values.

ACT-Based Group Therapy for Social Anxiety

The program combines mindfulness training with ACT to help effectively manage social anxiety and social phobia. Our group sessions are effective and based on well researched and validated treatment protocol developed by psychologists Dr. Jan Fleming and Dr. Nancy Kocovski. By the end of the group, you will be able to overcome your anxiety so you can engage in the social activities that are meaningful and important to you. The benefits from the group will last long after the group is over. In our group sessions, you can learn and practice tools and techniques to help you overcome social anxiety. By the end of the group, you can be more open and willing to face your fears and be more successful in social situations.  

People with social anxiety are often hesitant to join a group. We can reassure you that this group program is right for you because you are anxious about joining groups. The group format gives you a safe place to learn skills so you can overcome your social anxiety.

Group Session Structure

The class meets once a fortnight for 20 weeks for a total of 10 sessions. Each class is around 90 minutes long. The groups are designed for approximately 6-12 participants. A waitlist will be compiled for each 20-week program cycle, with the group running two times per year. An outline of the session is detailed below:

Session Focus Summary
Session 1 Week 1 Introduction to Safety Mode and VITAL Action Mode. In the first week, the session begins with general administrative and housekeeping processes. An introduction to mindfulness is explored via mindful eating exercise (intake questionnaire to assess for any allergies). An overview of the six core processes of ACT are briefly explored followed by understanding of Social Anxiety Disorder. Maintaining factors are discussed through over reliance on use of safety behaviours, focus and attention on social threats and danger, overcontrol and resistance of anxious feelings, and getting fused/buying into anxious thoughts. Complementing the Vital Action Mode is introducing acceptance process of mindful self-compassion. Set homework in accordance with the Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety and Shyness (MAWSAS).
Session 2 Week 3 Acceptance and Willingness. This week introduces participants to perspective taking exercises through the use of The Observing Mountain metaphor, inviting participants to take note of different parts of their experiences such as thoughts, images, memories, emotions, sensations. The rationale for Acceptance processes are introduced and why we practice it. The use of the ‘Niagra Falls’ experiential exercises is use to demonstrate anxiety sensors. Participants are invited to consider have they noticed that just when it seems most important to you to control your anxiety in your feared social situations is when it’s most difficult? To illustrate this point further, role play game with the ‘anxiety monster’ and rope is used to engage in a tug of war. This exercise demonstrates that willingness to experience anxiety can be like “dropping the rope” in the struggle with anxiety.
Session 3 Week 5 Values and Goals. Session 3 begins with mindful body scan incorporating progressive muscle tension and release, noting the difference between those states. The Body Scan is the first “prong” of a three-pronged approach participants will learn in the group to help gradually build up a willingness to experience physical sensations of anxiety, or in other words to “strengthen your abs”: your acceptance of bodily sensations. The Body Scan and two additional exercises are about paying mindful attention to your body: First, to your body in stillness. Then secondly to your body in movement. And then thirdly, to your body as you intentionally bring on anxious bodily sensations. The aim of this approach is to gradually cultivate participants capacity to open up to, and let go of, the struggle with physical sensations of anxiety, to assist participants in being able to flip on the “willingness switch”. Rationale and myths around self-compassion are explored. Self-compassionate imagery is further explored in the session. The practice is about developing a compassionate image and about developing feelings of compassion toward yourself. Imaginal exposure exercise is conducted and viewed through the lens of previous self-compassionate image. The latter part of the session is dedicated to values exploration with the use of the ‘Attending your 80th birthday party’ exercise. Definitions of life directions and life destinations are discussed. Life domains and goals are explored.
Session 4 Week 7 Developing a different relationship to thoughts and Goal Stepping. The session begins a mindful ‘seeing’ exercise to explore the breath, sounds, and perceptions. An overarching theme for the session is centred around Rumi poem ‘The Guest House’. The use of improv-based exercises is used to elicit fusion, to challenge the urge to ‘do things right’. This part of these session is helpful to teach participants about staying in the present moment and connecting with our common humanity. The exercise illustrates the process of letting go of the urge to be perfect and replacing self-judgment with self-compassion.
Session 5 Week 9 Self-Compassion, Being with Anxiety and Introduction to VITAL. In this session, participants build on acceptance of bodily sensations beginning with a group stretching exercise. The theme of this session extends on the acceptance process with the ‘taking a compassionate break’ exercise. Two or more physiological exposure exercises of ‘being with the anxiety’ are conducted with the entire group such as running on the spot, head lifting, breathing through a straw and hyperventilating.
Session 6 Week 11 VITAL Action Exercises, VITAL Action Worksheets and Four-Part Plan for Taking VITAL Action. The session begins with imagining taking VITAL action by asking participants to focus on a social situation of valued importance where they would like to take action in as much detail as possible noting any urges or safety behaviours that arise and when it does, defusing from this. The general theme of the excise is to extend on the imagery exercise and consider Vital Action Exercises or willingness exercises.
Session 7 Week 13 Taking VITAL Action - Continued. The beginning of the session further builds on the acceptance process of self-compassion with the well-known loving-kindness mindfulness exercise. Conduct VITAL-Action exercises based on participants' goals. Participants are to share at least one step/activity/goal that they will carry out between now and the next session.
Session 8 Week 15 Consolidations and troubleshooting VITAL Actions Exercises. This session advances the foundations and skills learned in the previous session allowing participants to troubleshoot any barriers or obstacles that inhibit progress. Group processes and dynamics become especially helpful here for group members to learn and share with one another. Previous exercises are rehearsed in this session for participants to practice and build upon. The session begins with imagining taking vital action exercises similar to previous sessions.
Session 9 Week 17 VITAL Action Exercises. This session takes a similar format to session 8. Specific exercises are chosen by individual group members to explore. Group members identify at least one action they will carry out between sessions and anything they would like to do in the final session.
Session 10 Week 19 Consolidations and troubleshooting VITAL Actions Exercises. This session serves as a summary of the application of VITAL Action and the ACT model for SAS. A review of each participant’s progress since the start of the group is discussed and accomplishments are shared and what they would like to continue to work on going forward.

Meet the Program Facilitator

Liam Reilly

My name is Liam Reilly. I hold general registration as a psychologist, and I am approved to practice by AHPRA through the Psychology Board of Australia.  

I am competent working with a range presentation of clients from ages 12 up. I have a diverse skill set learnt through a variety of work setting in community mental health, rural health services, Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation, and as a FIFO psychologist to rural and remote locations across Western Australia.  

I seek to be a warm, non-judgemental, and compassionate clinician to better understand a person’s own unique experience, context, and how it impacts on behaviour. My treatment approach is guided by the philosophy that every person strives for and has the capacity to fulfil their own potential for a rich, full, and meaningful life that promotes positive mental wellbeing and relationships. Being trained in trauma informed care, I can provide a supportive and safe environment for people to heal and grow beyond trauma.

Meet
Liam Reilly

Enrol Today

Next Intake
April 2024

Information about Fees and Rebates

Medicare Rebates for Group Therapy

  • Medicare rebates are only eligible for the psychological treatment of approved mental health disorders. Not all group therapy programs treat conditions eligible under the Medicare scheme. As such, not all programs are eligible for Medicare rebates.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure your program is eligible. It is displayed on the 'at a glance' section. If you are unsure, please contact our reception.
  • Medicare referrals are only valid for up to 10 sessions. If a program has more than ten sessions, you may not be eligible for a rebate for every session. Please note that it is per session, not per week - if a program lasts for 20 weeks but only meets fortnightly for each session, every session will be covered by Medicare.

Fees

  • Fees for each program are as advertised in the 'at a glance' section.
  • If you are paying for each session individually, you must pay at the time of appointment. Failure to do so will impact your eligibility to attend future sessions for that program.

Complete our Enrollment Form Today

An icon of an envelope
Enrol Today
or
visit our
page for more ways to message us