Today, we're diving into a topic that affects many kids, teens, and adults: social anxiety. Social anxiety is more than just the usual nervousness or shyness; it can significantly impact daily life, making even the simplest social interactions panic-inducing. We're going to break down what social anxiety is, how it differs from normal social worries, and most importantly, how to spot it in children and teens.

Our guest today is Sarah Olivo, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience. Sarah specializes in evidence-based treatments, particularly CBT, and is dedicated to helping children, teens, and young adults overcome anxiety and achieve meaningful change in their lives. As the Head of Lumate Academy, Sarah is passionate about spreading the benefits of CBT to those with limited access to these life-changing therapies.

In this episode, we'll explore the various types of treatment options available, with a particular focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). We'll also discuss practical ways parents and educators can support kids and teens struggling with social anxiety. Understanding the difference between typical developmental anxiety and social anxiety is crucial. While it's normal for kids to experience some level of anxiety as they grow, social anxiety is characterized by an intense fear of being judged or embarrassed in social situations, often leading to panic.

With Sarah’s guidance, by the end of this episode, you'll better understand social anxiety, its impact, and the powerful ways we can help our kids and teens manage and overcome it. 


Show Notes:

[2:18] - Many kids and teens experience anxiety and a lot of times they are a normal part of growing up.

[3:29] - Some of the questions asked are, “How frequently is anxiety happening?” and “Is it causing a lot of distress for the child or the family?”

[4:57] - There are types of anxiety that are developmentally appropriate to experience at different stages of development.

[6:00] - The core of social anxiety is the fear of being judged by others and embarrassed in some way.

[7:01] - For many kids and teens with social anxiety, social situations are panic-inducing.

[8:38] - There is also Generalized Anxiety Disorder which does differ from social anxiety.

[11:28] - As parents, we can read our child’s mind. There are times when we won’t be able to tell the thoughts that lead to anxiety.

[13:33] - For those with social anxiety, it’s not that they don’t know how to act in certain situations.

[15:27] - There are ways to get help. One of the most effective treatments for social anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

[18:04] - Social situations activate the threat center for those with social anxiety.

[21:19] - For treating social anxiety, goals will be different for each individual.

[23:25] - Social anxiety is far different from simply being an introvert.

[26:23] - Individual programs are fine, but group programs are excellent for helping overcome social anxiety struggles and meet goals.

[29:04] - Privacy is a concern for some group programs, but it is not something to worry about.

[32:18] - Social anxiety that goes unmanaged can lead to chronic anxiety.

[35:15] - If someone as a child or a teenager struggles with social anxiety, it is likely that a parent also does.

[38:07] - At school, teachers tend to cater to a child or teen’s social anxiety.

[39:56] - Oftentimes we only notice the negatives. We need to notice when a child is working on their struggles and practicing the things they’re learning.


About Our Guest:

Sarah Olivo, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who believes that empathy, collaboration, and a sense of humor are the bases for any good therapy. Sarah is a staunch believer in evidenced-based psychology and has worked diligently to become fluent in many forms of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). In short, Sarah’s approach has rigorous research at its core, and she continually seeks out training opportunities so that she can be on the front lines of the most modern and effective treatments. Sarah brings over 20 years of clinical experience when helping her clients get the changes they want out of their lives, as quickly as possible. Her goal as the Head of Lumate Academy is to help spread CBT far and wide so that children, teens, and young adults with less access can start making these changes as well.


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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.


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