Before I started therapy I thought I would find support groups online for people with social anxiety. I don’t like to be in groups, so I thought that joining a group in a virtual setting would be more comfortable for me.
The first group I found was on Facebook. It wasn’t terrible, but there was no moderation from a trained professional. It was just the socially anxious leading the socially anxious – the blind leading the blind. I left there after a few weeks.
It was at that time that I started to look for a trained therapist to see. I did my research and found one that was close to me that had some of the same philosophies as myself. I was able to make an appointment over the internet, which was great. I didn’t have to talk to anyone on the phone! I did get a call back from them – I didn’t answer it, they left a message. The informed me that she was out on maternity leave and wouldn’t be back for three more weeks. I decided to wait it out.
In the mean time I thought I would do some more outreach on the internet again. The first one I found was Psych Central. The site is operated by Dr. John M. Grohol, who first found the site in 1995 as a directory of mental health professionals. Now it is an online social resource network for mental health concerns. The site does have a very good community forum, where people talk about all types of mental health issues. Some of what people talk about I can relate to, but there are other topics that I cannot relate to. It was interesting to learn about the many different mental health issues out there, but I was looking for a community targeted at me.
I found the a site called Social Anxiety Support (SAS) that is an online community targeted for those with social anxiety. When I tried to sign up for it, I noticed that I already was a member. I must have found the site before, but forgot all about it. The site is not run by a mental health profession, but by Verical Scope, a company that does online marketing. There is only one article on the site that was written by a professional. All other articles were written by the community. There is a very large community presence. There are currently over 140,000 registered users with hundreds of users on at any given time. Not too bad for a website that started up about ten years ago.
If the SAS is too crowded there is the Social Anxiety Forums (SAF). There are currently over 4000 registered members. There has been a number of times when I have been the only members looking at the forums. It is a very quiet site and not as busy as SAS. I couldn’t find any information about the history of the site or who is running it.
If you are looking for some good information from professionals on social anxiety or mental health in general, I would suggest Psychology Today. This site is the online version of the magazine with the same name. It first started in 1967 with every article written by professionals, many of them very well known names within their field. It is also written more for the layman as the intended audience and not for other professionals. Perhaps the best thing about this site is the section called “Find a Therapist“. You can look through the directory of therapists by zip code and narrow it down by other criteria as well. This is what I used to find my current therapist.