Can improv class help with social anxiety?

This post answers: How can I improv class help with social anxiety? How is the improv class conducted? What is improv? What are the other benefits of improv? What is social anxiety? What are the signs and symptoms of social anxiety? How to manage social anxiety using self-help techniques? How to manage social anxiety using other methods?

How can improv class help with social anxiety?

Improv classes can help with social anxiety as it acts as a therapy for psychological problems by working on the negative or unhelpful thought patterns which cause anxiety. It helped individuals come up with various coping skills while they are in a challenging situation.

Improv also acts as a medium of exposure therapy for individuals with social anxiety in which the therapist tries and maintain a secure environment in which they can expose those with social anxiety to the things that they try to escape or fear.

It is based on the principle that when individuals are exposed to something that makes them uncomfortable, it will help in reducing fear and avoidance. Apart from reducing the fear it also helps individuals to learn a few skills that they can use when they fear failure.

A supporting pilot study which was published in the journal of mental health indicates that improv helps in the treatment of depression and anxiety.

How is the improv class conducted?

Improv class can be conducted in the form of a course for an hour a week involving a licensed therapist working with various individuals having social anxiety. Individuals are asked to act at the moment without taking much time to dwell on their fears

Improv classes with individuals suffering from social anxiety usually focus on addressing the issues. During the initial few weeks, the therapist tries to build a strong trust between the individual and themselves to make them feel more comfortable and open up about their thoughts and feelings.

Following this, the therapist gives more exercises to individuals such as the mirroring game which is carried out in pairs. Here individuals are asked to do what their partners are doing by playing the role of a mirror.

Individuals with social anxiety might find these activities and sessions challenging and difficult during the initial classes however many reports indicate that the only way to develop skills is to get comfortable while being uncomfortable

What is improv?

Improvisation, also known as improv, is a type of live theatre in which the plot, protagonists, and communication of a game, scenario, or narrative are pulled out of thin air. To get initiated, improvisers frequently take a recommendation from the viewer or draw on another source of motivation.

Improvised shows can vary between improv troupes based on their coaching, objectives, and theme. Improv is often solely comedic, while other times it is a combination of both humor and drama, or just theater.

What are the other benefits of improv?

Some other benefits of improv are:

It helps individuals be more creative

Considering the nature of improv while individuals are asked to act at the moment it helps individuals to bring out their creative sides and also see that of others.

It makes individuals better listeners

Many exercises in improv require individuals to mirror the actions, behaviors, and words of another making them attentive and reflective listeners in the long run.

It brings out the child in many

Improv sessions might involve many fun activities in the group which might be soothing and therapeutic to many individuals mainly because it brings out the child in many individuals in the form of games and interactions.

Helps individuals enjoy

Improv sessions can be a source of enjoyment where individuals focus at the present and stop dwelling on negative thoughts and experiences.

Helps individuals become optimistic

Improv sessions can also make individuals positive in terms of their outlook, thoughts and emotions by interacting with others and having positive experiences. It helps individuals interact with those who are optimistic Who gradually become their ideals.

What is social anxiety?

Individuals experiencing social anxiety might feel uncomfortable being in social situations to an extent that it hampers their daily functioning, it’s sometimes referred to as a social phobia.

Individuals consider public spaces as potential spaces of humiliation and embarrassment. Social anxiety affects how a person Interact with the world around them.

Social anxiety can be differentiated from shyness. In that shyness does not affect an individual’s daily life and functioning, moreover shyness is short-lived.

On the other hand, social anxiety is persistent and negatively impacts various aspects of an individual’s life like their ability to work productively or even develop or maintain close bonds with people outside their family.

What are the symptoms of social anxiety?

The symptoms of social anxiety can be both physical and psychological.

The most significant physical symptoms of social anxiety are:

  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Lightheadedness or feeling dizzy
  • Increased heart rate

The psychological symptoms that individual experiences during a social anxiety attack are:

  • Excessive and intensive worry about the social situation
  • Worrying days or even weeks ahead of an important social event
  •  Trying to camouflage themselves in the background or the need to avoid the social situation on a whole
  •  The need for intoxication to face a social situation
  •  The constant worry of being observed by others 

In addition to these individuals with social anxiety may avoid social interactions such as asking another person a question when in doubt, potential job interviews, shopping, using public services like transport or washrooms, carrying out activities in public such as speaking or even eating in that matter.


How to manage social anxiety using self-help techniques?

Lifestyle changes

Apart from therapy and medication what works best to manage social anxiety is certain lifestyle changes. These may include:

  •  Regular exercises
  •  Having a balanced diet,
  •  Socializing and talking to people about their anxiety,
  •  Journal writing to express and understand one’s feelings and
  • Avoiding alcohol or drugs.

Take control of your breathing

It is normal for anxiety to bring about changes in your body, for instance, increased breathing. these changes often make an individual feel uncomfortable.

One can take control of this discomfort by carrying out a few simple steps such as holding one’s breath for two seconds and slowly letting it out through their mouth.

Repeating this step several times until one feels relaxed. This is most effective when one sits down in a comfortable position with their back straight.


Carry out progressive muscle relaxation

Research indicates that certain activities such as walking, or jogging can help in killing anxiety. Another effective technique to kill anxiety is progressive muscle relaxation.

Progressive muscle relaxation involves flexing and releasing a group of muscles in one’s body which helps to maintain their attention on the feelings of this contraction and relaxation.

Prepare ahead of situations

It is best advised that people who experience social anxiety must plan ahead of these situations that make them nervous to increase their confidence.

Start small

to kill social anxiety people must start small. In that individuals must avoid big social situations and start with the situation that they are compatible with.

For instance, one can start by going for lunch with friends and family members rather than with a set of individuals that they’re not familiar or confident with.

Push back negative thoughts

One very effective way to kill social anxiety is to focus and work on one’s negative thoughts actively.

Think about the negative thoughts that one has about a particular situation and write them down. Following which the person is required to write down positive thoughts that challenge the negative ones.

Sensory awareness

One’s senses can help them calm down while they feel anxious in any situation. For some people trying to look at photographs that give them a sense of happiness or using a particular scent that can help to distract them from the negative thoughts and reconnect with more positive ones can help to kill the anxiety at the moment.

How to manage social anxiety using other methods?

Like other physical conditions, even social anxiety has different approaches for its management and treatment. Some people might only need a single type of treatment while others might require a combination of approaches.

Some of the ways to manage or treat social anxiety disorders are:

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular situation that they usually fear in a graded manner.

It usually starts with exposing the individual to a situation that is least triggering when the individual gets comfortable with this situation introduced or exposed to them with each session individuals become comfortable with a real-life situation that is otherwise anxiety-provoking.

Group therapy

As the name suggests group therapy usually involves two or more individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.

It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same condition or fears they might not feel left alone or isolated.

This kind of therapy also helps in developing and maintaining social skills or techniques to interact with people in other social settings.

 Prescribed medication

Social anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health professional. There are different types of anxiety medications each with its benefits and side effects.

Online therapy 

Individuals with social anxiety can also seek therapy online. This would involve interacting with the therapist one-on-one over an audio or video call. 

Some individuals with social anxiety might be more comfortable seeking help through this mode than others while in a different case some might prefer face-to-face therapy sessions. 


There are various new therapeutic approaches that are coming up to deal with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Improve is one such approach that has been adopted recently to deal with individuals’ social anxieties and equip them with the required skills to deal with similar challenging situations in the future.

However, individuals must understand that this cannot be a replacement for medication and therapy in severe cases. It is important that individuals attend therapy in a clinical setup in order to deal with their social anxieties and phobias which hamper their functioning and performance.

Frequently asked questions: How can I improve class help with social anxiety?

Will taking improv classes help with social anxiety?

It is believed that improv classes helps individuals with their symptoms of anxiety and also help them develop various skills required to face challenging situations.

Does improv help with anxiety?

It is believed that improve classes provides individuals a sense of belongingness by creating a safe space for them to open up about their thoughts and feelings further making it easier for them to work with their anxieties.

Does improv help with social skills?

Improve helps individuals with social skills such as listening, communication, teamwork and adaptability.

What is improv therapy?

Improve therapy are sessions where individuals are able to form a connection between life skills and improvisation training.

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