Living with social anxiety doesn’t just affect the person who has social anxiety disorder – it can affect their loved one’s as well. If you have a friend or family member who you believe has social anxiety, you can support them in a way that helps them deal effectively with the disorder. Start by discussing the problem with your loved one – in private. This is not an intervention, and should not be handled as a confrontation of any kind. Just have a non-threatening, non-judgmental conversation about what is going on with the person. If the person already knows that they have social anxiety this will be a much easier conversation. However, if they have never been diagnosed, or discovered for themselves that they have social anxiety, this conversation can be quite difficult. It is important that you not push too hard. You can suggest professional help, but you cannot force it – or even try to force it. The decision to seek professional help for social anxiety is a personal decision that must be made by the individual, without outside pressure. If your loved one does not feel that they need professional assistance, do some research, and find alternative personal treatments that will help, and suggest these to your loved one. Help them practice the techniques. Again, don’t push. Gently encourage your loved one to attend social functions with you. Take them shopping, invite them to a party, or a small gathering. Do not be surprised if they decline the invitation. You can gently encourage them to attend, ensuring them that you will be there with them, and for them, but -again – don’t push. If they do agree to attend, work out something with them in advance. Have them tell you what happens to them when the fear begins. Learn to recognize the signs, or work out a signal with your loved one. When the fear begins, your job is to come to their rescue, and take them out of the situation – even if it is only a temporary removal to the restroom or outside. Make sure that you are available for the rescue. If you promise your loved one that you won’t let them out of your sight at the social event, live up to that promise. Simply looking around, and seeing that you are not there can trigger the fear, and you will have a very hard time getting them to attend another social function with you. While you must deal with your loved one’s social anxiety gently, you cannot patronize them. If you do not have social anxiety, you really cannot ever fully understand what they are going through. You cannot fix their problem. They are not your ‘project.’ All you can do is lend support when it is needed, and otherwise, treat the person as you normally would. People who have social anxiety already worry that people are judging them – they don’t need to feel as though their loved one’s are judging them as well. Gary Miller is the author of “Prisoners of Our Thoughts: How to break free from the grips of Social Anxiety and Fear.” To learn more about the book click here to go to the website at www.social-anxiety-cure.com.