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I don’t know where I’d be right now without this SA support group. I started in 2013 and I was able to find and interact with people like me who have intense anxiety and not feel like I’m alone anymore. This group was also able to help me overcome my anxiety and live a better life outside of the group.
-Jon in CT
I've been with the group for over 9 years, and it's helped me tremendously. It's allowed me to learn a lot about myself, and to improve my life by changing the way I think and behave.
It also provides a unique opportunity to spend time on a regular basis with people who truly understand what SA is like, where you can talk about SA-related issues without fear of being judged.
-M.S., West Haven
I joined the New Haven CT. SA Group because I knew I could no longer manage my social anxiety.
In fact, SA had been managing my behavior for over 30 years. The heavy cost of maintaining my SA was simply too great!
I have given up far too many social, personal, and professional opportunities in an effort to "cope" with SA. The pain of isolation finally became greater than the fear of rejection. That's when I took action and joined the SA Group.
Joining the SA Group and sharing our stories with those who understood my plight (first hand) was invaluable.
The group is a safe environment to "re educate" an unhealthy belief system, build awareness, and
foster positive attitudes. It also allows an individual with SA to gently confront their SA issues and
practice behavioral exercises that mirror real world social situations.
Thanks to this group I now have a better understanding of myself, the other members, and humanity in general.
-Grateful in New Jersey
I joined Marla's Social Anxiety group because I have been struggling with SA for most of my life.
Despite suffering from a laundry list of social anxiety symptoms,
I never knew the disorder even had a name until my mid-20's.
At this time, I was disappointed to find most therapists have never heard of social anxiety
and there are few resources for those struggling with it.
I found Marla through her group on meet-up.com and was so relieved to have an outlet where
I could talk with people who could to relate to my problems.
Marla's CBT group takes it a step further and allows a regular group of people to meet and work on their
SA-related problems together in a supportive environment.
I've found that since attending this group, I feel much more optimistic about being able to overcome my anxiety.
It's a slow process and some days are better than others, but just knowing there are others who have the
same difficulties and that we can support and help each other has made a real difference for me.
-Angela, Eastern CT
Since making the commitment to attend my first couple of Social Anxiety group meetings with Marla and the group, the cost benefit of finding not only the courage but the precious commodity of time from my day has become less and less of an issue.
Marla makes group integration a seamless approach, yet as methodical as can be. All new faces are greeted with a smile, along with an ever present invitation to become a valued group contributor.
It is obvious to not only me, but in candid discussion with other group attendees that Marla not only walks the walk,
but talks the talk of someone who knows firsthand the struggles of those with this disorder.
She offers plenty of advice, patience and accolades. I am always at comfort, and she has designed an atmosphere highly effective in fostering open, judgment free discussion amongst peers.
Marla, the leader has an extraordinary gift to be non-judgmental.
She has a rare combination of psychology education as well as experience with personal social anxiety.
We are lucky to have someone like her running the group. I enjoy the diversity and authenticity of the group.
When you suffer with this condition, life can be hard; joining this group could be the 'first' step to making
your life just a little but easier by just the 'simple' fact of knowing that you really are
NOT JUST the ONLY one out there. Thank you for Caring and Sharing about this condition.
From personal experience, this support group has helped me understand that there are a lot of people out there who share
my fears and anxieties, and that there are possibilities to lower my extremities, and finally diminish them.
It's a goodeye opener. It's worth checking out.
So far these groups have made me become more aware that I still have social anxiety in the form of mini groups
which relates to my experience in high school. I don't have the fear of working or being out in public situations anymore but I feel like if I keep attending these they will help me release some of that anxiousness I have in small groups.
I always feel relief after speaking at a meeting so I'm going to try to force myself to speak more and
share more ideas in finding ways to combat anxiety.
The meetings are so amazing because everyone else understands what you’re going through.
You can pass and not speak at all if you don't want to or share as much or as little as you want.
I feel as though this support group is going to help me so much. I'm very happy to have found this group.
Thank you so much Marla for all of your hard work!You are making a real difference in many people's lives!
I look forward to the future of the group and the many new adventures we will explore together
as we help each other and learn about ourselves.
You continue to amaze me Marla...
you are creating this beautiful and powerful wave of interest, and hope;
a name for Social Anxiety in the community and acceptance...
and again, hope, there is no stopping you now!
I have struggled with social anxiety as long as I can remember.
I began seeing therapists as a teenager, but none of them seemed to fully understand what I was feeling.
Ironically for a person with SA, the best form of support I found was in group therapy.
In New Haven, I met an encouraging group of people with whom I could relate.
It was wonderful knowing that I wasn't alone in my experience with SA.
Since I knew the group members had social anxiety too,
I felt free to share my feelings and go out of my comfort zone with cognitive behavioral therapy exercises.
Marla was one of the co-facilitators of the group, and was uniquely qualified in that she had both a
psychology background and social anxiety. I recommend both CBT and a support group
to anyone with social anxiety.
Although I am new to the Social Anxiety/Public Speaking Phobia group, I can tell that it is already helping.
I have struggled with this problem for years but never really recognized that so many others also have this difficulty.
Through attending some groups with the wonderful organizer, Marla, I feel less alone, more hopeful,
and motivated to overcome my challenges.
-M.M., New Britain, CT
I have noticed social anxiety my whole life but it really started to affect me around high school and college. It wasn't until I started working that my anxiety was exacerbated to the point where I could barely function. I knew that something wasn't right but I couldn't put my finger on it. This was when I really started researching to find out what was wrong with me.
I found a few social anxiety websites and then I came across the Dr. Richards series. It described my symptoms exactly. I ordered it immediately and the day it arrived I started going through it step-by-step. Just about everything he said I could relate to. I took my time with the series and after about 6 months of doing the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as described in his book, I found Marla's social anxiety support group on one of Dr. Richards email newsletters.
It was perfect timing for me. I contacted her and she (and the rest of the group) welcomed me with open arms. I was pretty nervous going to the group and it took me a little while to get acclimated but I soon noticed that here I could finally start to gradually work on some of the behavioral aspects of my social anxiety in a safe and friendly environment with people who I can relate to.
I have been going to the group just about every Saturday since I joined in January 2009. It has made a huge difference in my life and I'm slowly but surely starting to do things I thought I would never be able to do again.
For example I just started graduate school for engineering which requires me to present in front of many people and network with over 30 members of my cohort. In the past these things would have been almost impossible for me to do and I would probably beat myself up after if I didn't perform up to my expectations.
But now, with my cognitive reinforcement and behavioral strategies (which I learned in the group),
I feel I can handle these situations a lot better.
Overall I'd say this group is one of the best things I've joined in my life and I believe
it can truly benefit anyone with social anxiety.
Marla superbly facilitates a safe, non-judgmental, explorative, and informative group in which
anyone with any form of social anxiety would greatly benefit attending.
When people are socially anxious, we think that our fears and concerns are uniquely ours, which can be terrifying and lonely. The group is an excellent place to discuss these "hang ups" without fearing judgment or ridicule, because, frankly, we are all in the same boat! It was nice to hear that I wasn't the only one going through this.
- C., New Haven, CT
I just recently started attending this group. I realized I had SA from my teenage years and have
had plenty of therapy/biofeedback over the years, but it never really helped in the end
During my life it has hindered my work and personal life and taken a lot of enjoyment out of it.
Now that my kids are soon heading off to college, I decided I was really tired of my SA ruling & ruining
my life and chose to attend a group. This is the first group for SA I have ever attended and I have only attended
one session so far. And it was a close call too because I almost didn't go. I was late so walked away
but came to my senses and walked in late (feeling all eyes on me - you know that feeling!!)
Well, I am so glad I did because it was a pleasure meeting everyone and everyone was very very sweet.
And to have them understand my predicament because they have something close to what I experience was a real relief.
I was extremely anxious at first (entering late, introducing myself) but it calmed down when I made the
realization that everyone I was with had similar experiences. It didn't disappear but was certainly manageable,
more manageable than I have felt in a very long time. What I have shared with so few people in my life,
I was openly sharing with the group... and felt good doing it. I felt like someone opened the floodgates.
To have someone, nevermind a whole group!, understand what you feel is the worst of you
was more than I ever expected and just speaking alone was a source of relief.
I went home and was actually relaxed. It felt good.
And I think that is a fantastic thing so will definitely be attending more meetings!
Thank you Marla!
It is wonderful to hear the experiences that the group shares. While I've only attended a handful of
meetings the past few years, everyone is nice and understanding. Marla is very helpful.
I would not have found out about the New Haven group based on the Dr. Richards series if it wasn't for Marla :)
A group member turned group leader shares his success story:
I know the success and progress we share is in large part due to the camaraderie, support, and the willingness of our group.
I believe our willingness to open up, to speak from the heart, and our vulnerability created the
right atmosphere for this experience to happen.
At the height of my SA, vulnerability felt like death to me. Very scary.
As I practiced being vulnerable, I discovered a hidden truth:
Vulnerability is the gateway to inner strength.
It's not like you do it once and say, "OK, I don't have to be vulnerable anymore."
It's more like... I realize I am not my thoughts...I'm am not my story. I'm finally awakening from my dream
(my ego or story) and realize I need no longer defend nor uphold it.
In this way, I have finally overcome myself...which has always been my only obstacle.
My story, which I believed was me, was one of rejection, limitation, self loathing, unworthiness....ok, you all get it!
Basically self suffering.
What a relief when I realized I no longer had to choose this belief system in an unconscious effort to "defend my SAD Story".
After all, I'm more than my story. Each chapter of "my story" is like a cloud floating through the clear blue sky. I finally woke to the fact that I'm the clear blue sky, not the clouds in it! In fact, I have always been the clear blue sky...and always will be.
I am the experiencer of my life, not the experience. If life has taught me one thing...thoughts, moods, situations will always come and go. Just like the clouds..."This too shall pass". Who knew? OK, so I was slow to find out. That's all.
Turns out, I was always the author of my life situation.
My internal dialogue has ushered in my story and life as it appears to me.
Fully aware of this, I now choose to write a new chapter in my life. In this way I will experience a different kind of life situation. One of conscious choice. In the past, I thought that when my anxiety was cured my life would begin. I must overcome social anxiety and then I will be happy. I sure want to stop feeling bad.
Hmmmm...Believing I must overcome social anxiety guarantees only one thing...I'll always have social anxiety to overcome.
However, If I accept that I'm not my story nor my beliefs, and my story is one of social anxiety (which includes the desire to rid myself of social anxiety)...I am free.
I am free. I free myself of my story and therefore my need to uphold it.
I am free to write the next chapter of my life...
Well, I choose now to surrender my old story and create the life I'd like to experience.
A life of acceptance, peace of mind, joy, and love. A life truly worthy of me! The real me.
The small voice inside yearning to be free. This small voice, eager to grow and blossom into it's full potential.
It is no longer my story to deny this voice. No longer am I obligated to uphold my delusional SAD story.
I am free. But how to bring forth this new chapter????
Intent, vulnerability and willingness...the rest is pure magic!
I just know it works.
To all, I give thanks for our shared journey. My life has already been enriched by each of you.
My sincere wish for all of you is this:
May you live a life truly worthy of you!
- Nick in New Jersey