San Francisco-based startup Joyable launched its online solution for overcoming social anxiety this week.
Working with a team of scientific advisors, founders Peter Shalek and Steve Marks – themselves former sufferers of social anxiety – created a method based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and programmed CBT support into their app and website.
The six-step programme starts with a 30-minute call to a personal coach in which clients discuss their goals.
Next, they work to understand their anxiety and what brings it on before taking the third step, which involves challenging those overwhelming thoughts.
Practice follows, first in simple situations in step four, then in more complicated ones in the fifth step and by step six, clients focus on how to retain what they've learned in the programme – which usually lasts 12 weeks – well into the future.
Coaches check in with clients on a weekly basis and are available for support via telephone, text and e-mail.
"People with social anxiety are sometimes hesitant to go to in-person office visits, and many can't get the necessary form of help from the existing mental health system, so an online option is particularly well suited for them," says Dr Richard Heimberg of the Thaddeus L. Bolton Professor of Psychology and Director of the Adult Anxiety Clinic at Temple University, who helped design the program.
Joyable claims that their approach has helped 90% of test participants decrease their anxiety – with an average reduction of 30%.
Venture capitalists are placing their bets on Joyable, for the company also announced that it closed US$2.1mil (RM7.82mil) in seed funding.
The service is available for US$99 (RM368) per month, or US$239 (RM890) for a three-month package.
To find out if Joyable could help you, take the Social Phobia Spin Assessment (SPIN) test – a 17 question survey developed at Duke University to assess the problem – or sign up for a free trial.
Definitions of social anxiety vary from country to country but the National Institute of Mental Health suggests it affects 15 million Americans.
Other methods exist to treat social anxiety disorder online including UK-based AI-Therapy.
Learn to Live is another online portal for overcoming social anxiety. – AFP/Relaxnews
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