The 11 Best Self-Help Books for Social Anxiety of 2021, According to an Expert

Learn how to open up to the world with these reads

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Our Top Picks

Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness

"Gillian Butler provides a step-by-step program for overcoming social anxiety disorder through cognitive-behavioral therapy."

The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety and Shyness

"The program outlined in this book has been shown to be effective for shyness and social anxiety in research studies."

Dying of Embarrassment

"The guide includes practical examples and workbook-style exercises to help motivate you to put the principles into practice."

Living Fully with Shyness and Social Anxiety

"A readable and friendly book that combines facts with practical advice for living the life you want despite having social anxiety."

Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens

"Designed specifically for teenagers who struggle with social anxiety, the workbook offers a customized plan."

Essential Strategies for Social Anxiety

"It's unique because it uses several different therapy techniques to decrease symptoms of social anxiety."

How to Be Yourself

"The techniques focus on silencing your inner critic and allowing your authentic personality to shine through."

The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook

"While it offers techniques to make panic-inducing tasks manageable, its goal is to remove anxiety barriers to form greater bonds."

Managing Social Anxiety, Workbook

"Updated to educate readers on the nature of social anxiety, this workbook offers an educational-style guide."

The Highly Sensitive Person

"The guide focuses on helping the HSP understand their personalities and increase emotional intelligence."

According to recent research by Mental Health America, 15 million Americans, or roughly 7% of the population, meets the diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder or social phobia. While some have struggled with social anxiety for years, the recent requirements of the quarantine, lockdowns, social distancing measures, school closures, and even the overuse of technology, have increased the feelings of social anxiety in many people who may not have experienced it before. Good social skills take practice even for people who may be naturally extroverted

As the world prepares to re-open and face-to-face interactions resume, feelings of insecurity, awkwardness, and anxiety may increase as culturally we have gotten more used to isolation than socializing. This anxiety can surface in group settings, work meetings, and dating situations. While we might be ready to get back to social activities, it may also be helpful to brush up on our social skills as we are all out of practice.

Here are the best self-help books for social anxiety on the market, according to a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Self-Help Guide

Pros
  • Very thorough research

  • Multiple techniques to draw from

  • Meant to be self-help

Cons
  • Long length at 335 pages

  • Requires significant time commitment

  • Worksheets may feel like school to some

By using research-backed Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT) this book teaches readers how to change their thoughts, and therefore their feelings, even when they cannot change their situations.

The book is meant to be a self-help journey as it provides guidance, self-diagnostic questionnaires and techniques, case studies, and worksheets to cater to many different kinds of learning styles. 

The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety and Shyness

The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety and Shyness

Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

Pros
  • Addresses specific topic

  • Allows for individual processing

  • Science-based techniques

Cons
  • Addresses shyness only

  • Some may not like workbook style

  • Some may benefit from further processing

Shyness can come naturally for some personalities. While there’s nothing wrong with an introverted or shy nature, it can bring its own set of challenges. Shy people may struggle with connecting to other people and speaking up for themselves.

This workbook helps you by allowing you to process specific situations through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) techniques and offering guidance to overcome the impediments that shyness may bring in social situations.

This book is highly effective for people who struggle with shyness, but not in ways severe enough to need therapy.

Dying of Embarrassment: Help for Social Anxiety and Phobia

Pros
  • Effective techniques

  • Targeted audience

  • Addresses public speaking

Cons
  • Best used in conjunction with therapy

  • Topic-specific

  • No worksheets or writing space

“Dying of Embarrassment” not only addresses the anxiety experienced in social situations, but also the fear of public speaking and fear of looking foolish or making mistakes in front of others.

This book focuses on readers who have been diagnosed with a social disorder or phobia to help them gain confidence in social settings.

Living Fully with Shyness and Social Anxiety: A Comprehensive Guide to Gaining Social Confidence

Pros
  • Expert author

  • Effective techniques

  • Addresses physical symptoms

Cons
  • Long length at 336 pages

  • No worksheets or writing space

  • No individualized approach

Author therapist Erika Hilliard uses a more empathetic approach to calming the symptoms of social anxiety.

This book stands out for its focus not only on the thought narrative, but also on calming the physical symptoms of social anxiety, including racing heart, poor eye contact, blushing, and even shy bladder syndrome.

Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens: 10-Minute Methods

Pros
  • Effective technique

  • Targets teenagers specifically

  • Not overwhelming: 10 minutes daily

Cons
  • Needs to be maintained to be effective

  • Only recommended for ages 12 to 17

  • Some teens struggle with writing

Author and licensed social worker Sally Stevens focuses on teenagers who struggle with social anxiety. Teenagers struggle socially in different ways compared to children and adults. Therefore, a workbook that targets these struggles specifically is more helpful than a general anxiety workbook.

This workbook offers a customized plan to address issues at home, school, and social settings with techniques meant to be practiced in less than 10 minutes a day.

Essential Strategies for Social Anxiety: Practical Techniques

Pros
  • Multiple effective techniques

  • Individualized planning

  • Everyday anecdotes

Cons
  • Best in conjunction with therapy

  • Some may not like workbook style

  • Some exercises may need processing


This workbook stands out from others because it uses several different therapy techniques to decrease symptoms of social anxiety, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and mindfulness.

Everyday anecdotes and examples are used to help readers connect with and apply the techniques. 

How to be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety

Pros
  • Easy and humorous writing style

  • Effective techniques

  • Focuses on thought narrative

Cons
  • Long length at 320 pages

  • No individualized approach

  • Must be self-motivated to practice skills

Everyone with social anxiety has heard the good-hearted but unhelpful advice of “just be yourself” at least once in their life. This book shows you how to actually do that and feel confident about it.

The techniques focus on silencing the inner critic that lives inside your thoughts and on how to allow your authentic personality to shine through.

The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook

Pros
  • Expert authors

  • In-depth research and techniques

  • Highly-individualized program

Cons
  • Requires significant time investment

  • Reader may benefit from further processing

  • Requires longer-term dedication

Two Ph.D. psychologists created this in-depth and thorough workbook to address social anxiety and those with naturally shy personalities. This workbook is longer and more in-depth than most, making it a good option for those with dedicated time, or to use in addition to therapy.

While the workbook offers sound techniques to make panic-inducing tasks like public speaking more manageable, the core goal of the workbook is to remove the barriers of anxiety in order to form greater bonds and connections with others.

Managing Social Anxiety, Workbook: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Approach

Pros
  • Research-focused

  • Individualized

  • Updated to reflect new research

Cons
  • Best used with therapy

  • Requires more time and dedication

Updated to educate readers on the nature of social anxiety and the science behind why CBT therapy is effective in managing symptoms of anxiety, this workbook offers an educational-style guide.

The workbook works best when used in conjunction with therapy to pair education with emotional processing.

The Highly Sensitive Person: Building Social Relationships

Pros
  • Easy to read writing style

  • Target audience specific

  • Effective techniques for this personality

Cons
  • Not for all social anxiety types

  • No individualized approach

  • Must be dedicated to practicing

Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) is not a clinical diagnosis, but this personality type can struggle with regulating emotions as daily stressors can bring more intense feelings. This is not a workbook style guide but rather focuses on helping the HSP understand their personality and how to increase their emotional intelligence.

People with intense emotions are often naturally intelligent, but struggle to benefit from their intelligence due to not always being able to regulate their intense emotions. 

How to Improve your Social Skills: Practical Exercises

Pros
  • Easy-to-read format

  • Short and concise

  • Expert author and guide

Cons
  • Too short for some readers

  • Some may need more in-depth work

  • No individualized approach

Written by a Ph.D. Psychologist, this book is a short and concise guide to increasing social skills and decreasing anxiety. This is a good option for people who are short on time and do not have a lot of space in their schedule to dedicate to a workbook or more in-depth programs.

Based on CBT techniques, this book offers readers easy-to-apply skills to everyday situations.

Final Verdict

If you prefer a workbook style, “Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness” (view at Amazon) is an in-depth option that is made for those on a self-help journey rather than a therapy journey. The “Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens” (view at Amazon) is the best option for those ages 12 to 17, and “How to be Yourself” (view at Amazon) is a great choice for those who do not want workbook-style guidance. All options use science-backed techniques rather than opinion-based writing. 

What to Look for in a Book for Social Anxiety 

Style

Some readers benefit from a workbook-style guide with space to write and worksheets to document specific thoughts and experiences, while others prefer anecdotes and a story-structured guide without writing prompts. Teenagers need social anxiety guides created specifically for that age group.

Time Commitment

Committing to a book or guide that does not really fit into your current schedule may lead you to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or defeated. It’s important to pick something simple that you're able to practice within a reasonable time frame. If you have more space and time to dedicate to self-improvement, then a lengthy guidebook may be more beneficial.

Subject-Specific

To get the most out of your self-help journey, be sure to pick a guidebook that fits your learning style and targets your specific situation. If you have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety, it is best to pick a guidebook to use in addition to therapy services. If you have a personality trait that brings challenges in social situations, then a non-clinical guidebook may be the most helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is social anxiety?

    Social anxiety disorder is defined as having an intense fear of social situations in which a person anticipates being seen in a negative way by others. People with social anxiety fear looking incompetent or weird and therefore judged, shunned, and ridiculed by peers.

  • How do I know if I have social anxiety?

    Social anxiety is more than shyness, it is experiencing fear during social settings and interactions with others that is so intense it begins to make life unmanageable. People with social anxiety are so afraid that they begin avoiding interactions altogether, causing them to miss out on what should be positive life experiences. 

  • What causes social anxiety?

    There are many causes for social anxiety, such as brain structure. Some negative or traumatic experiences like abuse, bullying, and long-term stress can create a clinical level of social anxiety.

  • What are some ways to deal with social anxiety?

    There are many effective strategies to decrease unwanted symptoms of social anxiety including regular self-care routines, talk therapy to heal from painful past experiences and change negative though narratives, and talking to supportive people about your struggles. Aspects of Exposure therapy also helps to teach people how to confront and overcome challenges. 

What Experts Say 

“When choosing a book to help with social anxiety, look for one that challenges readers to face their fears in small, gradual steps. I encourage clients to encounter social anxiety through saying hello, initiating a conversation, or initiating setting a time to spend with someone. This approach allows teens and adults alike to gain confidence while experiencing mastery with small wins and big victories,” Aliza Beaulieu, LMHC

Why Trust Verywell Mind? 

As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 15 years of experience working with clients to improve mental and emotional health, Mary K Tatum understands the importance of finding quality resources and techniques that work for each person. Not everyone will have the same kind of healing journey, therefore, having lots of options to choose from is vitally important in creating a lifestyle that combats mental illness and promotes health and wellbeing.  

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Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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