Can hypnotherapy help overcome social anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder is an overwhelming fear of social situations. For some people, their social phobia gets better over time, as they get older, but for others, treatment may be required to help people manage it. 

Three people sat on grass.

Hypnotherapy is thought to be an effective way to help people manage their social anxiety. We’ll explore this further, looking into why hypnosis works and where you can find a hypnotherapist.  

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder is a long-term, intense fear of social situations. It includes excessive self-consciousness and a heightened psychological response (such as palpitations, panic attacks, and shaking) when confronted with having to socialise with others.

Social anxiety differs from being shy or introverted as it can consume your thoughts and stop you from living life to its fullest. If you’re finding that the fear is affecting your well-being and you experience any of the below symptoms, you might have social anxiety.

Symptoms of social anxiety 

  • Constantly worrying about daily activities such as meeting strangers or interacting with others whether in person or over the phone.
  • Avoiding social activities.
  • Persistently worrying about doing something that may be perceived to be ‘embarrassing’ by others, such as blushing. You may feel intense pressure to ‘act normal’ around people.
  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Fear of being criticised by others.
  • Have low self-esteem.
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as being sick, sweating, shaking or having panic attacks in (or thinking about) a social situation.

Find out more about social anxiety

Can social anxiety be cured?

Given the nature of social anxiety, it can be hard for a person to seek help. Whilst it can be overwhelming, acknowledging that you need support is a brave first step to overcoming your social fear. Many people may take comfort in knowing that this is manageable. 

There are a number of treatment options available to help overcome or significantly reduce social anxiety. We recommend seeking a diagnosis from a healthcare professional, such as your GP, before undergoing any treatment to ensure that you find a method best suited to you.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

The most common treatment for social anxiety, CBT helps identify negative thoughts and change them into positives. It works by reframing negative thoughts – helping people to recognise that they are unrealistic and works to prevent people from slipping back into avoidant coping strategies. 

For example, someone who is worried about saying something wrong on the phone at work may avoid answering it at all. CBT helps the person identify that it is, in fact, harmless. What’s more, for the times when you may have a blunder (we all do it from time to time!) CBT teaches you tools to work through these. For example, how to navigate pronouncing someone’s name wrong by apologising, asking them to pronounce it, and admitting if you’re having difficulties. With effective treatment, you can start to learn that there is nothing to be embarrassed about. 

Hypnotherapy for social anxiety 

Whilst this is still a relatively new concept, hypnotherapy can aid in the treatment of social anxiety. It is most effective when used alongside other treatments, such as CBT and exposure therapy. It works by trying to get to the root cause of your social anxiety to find the link between it and what may have triggered it.

This process of working backwards aims to change your subconscious thoughts, separating your present reactions from the past trigger. For example, if you previously had a bad experience with public speaking, you may re-live this when having to speak to others, leading to the development of social anxiety. Hypnotherapy works to remove this link using the power of suggestions from your hypnotherapist whilst in a safe, hypnotic trance. 

Hypnotherapy is a natural and effective way of overcoming social anxiety. It can gradually change the way your subconscious mind reacts to situations – both real and imagined. By working with a skilled hypnotherapist, you can identify negative habits, behaviours and avoidance techniques and work together to change your thinking patterns effectively.

Dr Salone Goodman

The number of sessions needed differs based on each individual but, generally, the benefits can be established after four to six sessions. 


If you choose to try hypnotherapy to ease your anxiety, your hypnotherapist will usually provide you with some self-hypnosis techniques which you can put into practice outside of the therapy room. As well as this, there are other forms of self-help you can try:

  • Note down your triggers. Think about how you behave and react in social situations. Keeping a diary will help you identify situations that may heighten your anxiety, so that you can establish the most effective calming techniques. This will also be of use to a GP when seeking a diagnosis and/or a hypnotherapist when trying to understand your anxiety in more detail.
  • Try some relaxation techniques, such as breathwork when you’re feeling overwhelmed or panicked.
  • Focus on the positives. Try to challenge your internal thoughts when it comes to how you think other people perceive you. It’s common for many people with social anxiety to focus on these negative perceptions. For example, thinking “they’re waiting for me to slip up” when speaking to a group of people. Instead, try to consider what the most likely scenario might be – in this instance, telling yourself “they’re interested to hear what I have to say”. Whilst this might be easier said than done, practising self-compassion is a great way to build confidence and start to let go of anxiety. 

If you’re not quite ready to reach out to a professional, Adrian Jackson shares some ideas of things you can try yourself to ease your fear

For those wanting to take the next step on their journey, you can find a qualified hypnotherapist on Hypnotherapy Directory. Simply use the search tool to filter through the list of professionals and find the one that most resonates with you. 

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Written by Emily Whitton
Emily is a Content Creator & Marketing Coordinator at Happiful and a writer for Hypnotherapy Directory.
Written by Emily Whitton
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