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The Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook

Book Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Updated September 29, 2012

The Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook
Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber

The Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook is a complete self-help book for overcoming social anxiety disorder (SAD) using techniques drawn from cognitive-behavioral therapy. Authors Martin Antony and Richard Swinson designed the book to be used as a stand-alone guide or as a companion to therapeutic treatment. In addition to cognitive-behavioral strategies, the authors discuss other treatments (such as medications), genetic underpinnings of social anxiety, and how to improve social and communication skills. The workbook includes a variety of worksheets to make the self-help process more active for the reader. The Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook is one of the most comprehensive self-help manuals available for SAD.


This workbook is divided into two parts. The first part provides an overview of social anxiety, including the difference between shyness and social anxiety, prevalence of SAD, diagnostic characteristics and symptoms of the disorder, the three components of social anxiety (thoughts, feelings and behavior, genetic causes), and how to conduct a self-assessment.

In the second part, the authors cover how to make a plan for change, medications for SAD, how to change anxious thoughts, how to practice exposures, how to improve social skills, and how to avoid relapse.

Throughout the book, worksheets are provided so that readers can take notes about their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors in relation to the exercises that are presented. The workbook concludes with a resource section that includes useful books, associations and Websites pertaining to SAD.

What I Like

  • I like that this workbook is grounded in research about the effectiveness of various methods for treating SAD.

  • This workbook is extremely comprehensive, covering a variety of topics that are not always included in self-help manuals, such as medication treatment.

  • The worksheets provided by the authors allow the reader to become more engaged with the material and practice the exercises.

  • The section on preventing relapse offers hope to those who fear their social anxiety symptoms may return.

  • The workbook includes the most up-to-date information about cutting-edge research into the genetic bases of social anxiety and the medications that can be used to treat the disorder.

  • The workbook offers a thorough guide about how to conduct a self-assessment of your social anxiety symptoms; something not often seen in self-help manuals.

Areas for Improvement

  • The average reader may become overwhelmed by the amount of information in this book. After reading the book from start to finish (as is suggested for a first step) many readers may feel unsure about where to start work on the problem. A clearly defined series of steps or flowchart depicting the self-help process would be useful.

  • At times the workbook reads more like a scientific article than a guide directed at the everyday person. Some readers might find the text too dense and the in-text references distracting.

  • The workbook is based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Perhaps the introduction of some acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) techniques would be a valuable addition.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a comprehensive self-help manual to overcome SAD, the Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook fits the bill. With cutting edge research, a full section on understanding the disorder, and numerous worksheets designed to help you through the process, this book has it all. What the book lacks in user-friendly language it makes up for with excellent content.

On the other hand, if you are hoping for a quick read or a personal touch, this book might not be for you. It is very much a "user manual" that might be best accompanied by some sort of in-person therapy to bring the exercises to life.

If you do decide on this workbook, try not to get bogged down by the amount of material. After your first read through, go back and fill in the exercises that are included. Make a plan for yourself (using the chapter on planning a change) and chart your own course for improvement. To make the best use of this book, it really needs to be considered as an "owner's manual" to overcoming social anxiety disorder. Everything is there, you just need to be able to put the pieces together and make it work for you.

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