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Confronting Social Anxiety & Depression in a Fish Bowl


Imagine struggling with social anxiety, while confronting the prospect of talking to the press and, by extension, the world. Living in a fishbowl outside of your control. Now imagine doing that while you’re preparing for a tennis match in front of millions while you try to drown the world out under noise-cancelling headphones. Such was the pain tennis player Naomi Osaka confronted, ultimately deciding to withdraw from the French Open.

The point here is really to celebrate an individual’s strength in doing the unconventional to protect her mental health and well-being. Ms. Osaka apologized profusely, especially to the press corps whom she felt she was abandoning. Ultimately, she was willing to surrender millions in prize money for her mental health.

We are aware, of course, that most of us do not have the financial resources that Ms. Osaka has, and the solution she chose might not be a viable option for all– especially those of us who are most vulnerable. We note further that we hope that others do not have to choose between their careers and their mental health, and part of our goal is to make evidence-based treatment accessible for all who need it.

However, there is much that we can take away from this incident: Prioritize your mental health, even if it means saying “no.” Be willing to share your experiences with others. Seek professional help when it is needed. Recognize that you are not alone.

For those who want to read more about social anxiety, see

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that is based firmly on research findings.  It places emphasis on changing your cognitions (thoughts) or behaviors (actions) in order to effect change in how you feel. These approaches help people in achieving specific changes or goals.

Changes or goals might involve:

A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like reducing back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Cognitive behavioral therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life. CBT is an effective treatment for individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. The goal of CBT is to help people improve and gain more control over their lives by changing behaviors that don’t work well to ones that do.

How to Get Help

If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet. You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner. It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist. It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees. They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association. Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state. You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations. You may, of course, visit our website ( and click on “Find a CBT Therapist”

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition. These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.

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