How do I get over social anxiety and other issues that have crippled my life?
So first of all, be proud of yourself for reaching out for help with an issue that you've struggled with for a long time. You probably thought about getting help in the past but for whatever reason (well, probably social anxiety) chose not to follow through. You took the first step, and whether you decide to participate in therapy now or try other strategies for coping with social anxiety, you're addressing the issue.
You're not worthless. Social anxiety is a common problem, and it's not always easily recognizable; many people who appear to lack any social anxiety are overwhelmed with it frequently. Social anxiety is also something that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can treat quite effectively. It does take some work, and it's not something that's going to be resolved in one or two sessions, but at the same time you may notice some reduction in social anxiety relatively quickly. The basic principle of CBT is that we can change what we tell ourselves (our self-talk), and when we do this we change how we feel (and therefore can approach social situations with less anxiety).
The first step is to figure out where the social anxiety comes from. Our beliefs determine our thoughts, and these determine our feelings, such as anxiety. Some people experience social anxiety because of trauma. Others experience social anxiety because of a poor self-esteem. While therapy shouldn't focus largely on your past, addressing where the social anxiety stems from can be an important first step. By the way, if trauma is the reason you are experiencing social anxiety, I highly recommend working with a therapist who is trained in EMDR therapy.
Even if you don't immediately "get over" social anxiety, it doesn't have to control your life in the way that it has. Reducing social anxiety can take work, but it's quite doable, and I've seen many clients make remarkable progress. I urge you to seek further help, whether that be here or elsewhere. It could be a life-changing decision for you. If you have any additional questions, just let me know, and do take care of yourself.
Nicholas DeFazio, MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC