Benefits of group therapy: Social anxiety and fear of public speaking

What are the benefits of group therapy? First, group therapy lets you develop skills and builds your confidence. Second, group therapy changes your nervous system. Instead of automatically reacting with fear in speaking situations, your nervous system and brain gets re-trained to automatically react with more calm.

Benefits of group therapy: Builds your confidence.

The best way to overcome social anxiety and public speaking anxiety is to manage the fear process in a group. When you're with other people who share your fear, you learn that you're not alone. You can also practice speaking with others in a safe group. Groups are basically safe laboratories (labs) where you can practice controlling fear without the pressure of a real-life situation.

One of the key benefits is that you build confidence. You build confidence when you start doing something that you once thought you could not do. And you actually see yourself do it. There's nothing like that for building confidence. That's what happens in support groups. That's a wonderful benefit.

Benefits of group therapy: Can change your brain and nervous system.

The other benefit is that group therapy can actually help you re-wire your brain and nervous system.

One of the most interesting discoveries in brain science over the last few decades is that your brain actually changes based on your experiences. We know that doing specific brain exercises can change the size of certain areas of your brain. For example, the amygdala is a region of the brain that controls anxiety. The larger amygdala, the higher your level of anxiety. MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness and mediation practice, the amygdala got smaller.

So it's interesting that experiences, thoughts and behaviors can change your brain and your biology. Groups give you new experiences which can actually change your brain's fear center. Not only can the size of certain areas of your brain change, but the connections (re-wiring) between sections can change (for example, connections from the amygdala to other brain areas can get stronger or weaker depending on your experiences). Thoughts and experiences also change your brain chemistry.

Check out our blog with a list of anxiety clinics and virtual programs that can help you change and improve. Most anxiety clinics have group therapy.

Feel free to leave questions or comments below.

Research References

Bergland, C. (2013, November 20). The Size and Connectivity of the Amygdala Predicts Anxiety. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201311/the-size-and-connectivity-the-amygdala-predicts-anxiety

Davidson, R. J., & Begley, S. (2012). The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them. New York, New York: Penguin Group.

Siegel, D. J. (2010). Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. New York, New York: Bantam.


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