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Health Soc Work. 2002 May;27(2):137-44.

Shyness and social phobia: a social work perspective on a problem in living.

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  • 1School of Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23284-2027, USA.


Social phobia is classified as an anxiety disorder in psychiatric nomenclature. It represents a fear of performance or social interaction that significantly interferes with a person's social or occupational functioning. The author takes issue with the fact that social phobia is considered by many professionals to be a mental illness that is often treated best with medication. Social phobia can be conceptualized from a social work perspective as an extreme shyness that can be overcome with cognitive learning and behavioral rehearsal. This article reviews the biopsychosocial causes of social phobia and presents a summary of cognitive and behavioral interventions with empirically demonstrated effectiveness.

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