Participant Comments from San Diego Social Anxiety Conference

Dear Dr. Richards,

Your "Loosen up!", "So what?" and "Who cares?" got me on the path away from my ANT farm. (A guy in my group coined that, thanks to your ANT invention.)  I take "loosen up" literally.  If I feel tense when approaching strangers, I walk with my arms actually limp; and it makes me manage a smile.  Keeping my arms well bent and hands relaxed on handles of shopping carts helps too.

Also, your reassurance that people do not have us under a microscope when out in public helps me with challenges, such as riding in elevators.  I remember to breathe and think externally.

When you tell on your tapes about your school teaching days of "SADness," I 100% identified with you. (I taught 1st and 2nd grade for seven years in my twenties and only really felt human with the faculty when I’d drink at parties.) You’re an excellent teacher now; you just had to go through that pain to teach in a bigger sense. So, you are a role model for me.

I say kind things to people who seem shy, bolster my friends and grown sons when they have some SA, and may re-try launching my home business as a life coach, this time specializing in shyness.

I think of all of us who are conquering SAD with this favorite quote of mine:

"What is to give light must first endure burning." --Victor Frankel, concentration camp survivor.

Lastly a suggestion ... you might emphasize even more strongly that "it’s never too late to get help."

Thank you,



Dr. Richards,

My name is Javier and I am 26. I’m half Mexican, quarter Portuguese, and quarter Guamanian.  I’ve had social anxiety and shyness all my life.  I was born two months premature and very sick with spinal meningitis. This is probably the main contributing factor of my disorder.

I lived in San Diego all my life yet I didn’t have any friends growing up throughout my childhood. I had plenty of opportunities in that I played baseball throughout my childhood. I received excellent grades all through school. I had a 3.83 GPA in high school and was accepted to UCSD.

One of my problems, though, was that I always thought of myself as being stupid and slow. I went four years at UCSD and dropped out. I started getting therapy at the age of twenty. I had individual and group sessions with a therapist that didn’t specialize in SAD. It helped but I didn’t make big improvements until I started in April 2001.

The two big things that I do socially are that I’m involved with a young adult group at my church and I play baseball in an adult league every Saturday. I even attend young adult ministry certificate program workshops. I’m also going through vocational training in computers.  Just recently, I haven’t been going to groups and haven’t been reading your book daily like I usually do.  In result, I have been regressing a little.  I’m confident I could improve more once I change my thoughts.

My next step is to start dating.  I know I can do it.  I just need to start slowly and take little steps.

In closing, I would like to thank you very much for what you have done for me and for many other people.


Dr. Richards,

"Penny is starting to come out of her shyness now" was the comment my Kindergarten teacher wrote on my first report card.

Little did she know it would take over 55 years, several psychiatrists, psychologists and many disastrous experiments with prescription medicines for "Penny" to finally overcome her "shyness."

I accidentally found Dr. Richard’s SAD web site in Sept 2001. I was referred to a group using Dr. Richard’s "Overcoming Social Anxiety" tapes.  I got the tapes and attended a group. 

Realizing that I was not the only one with this problem and it had a name — "Social Anxiety" — was the first step to recovery.  Dr. Richard’s cognitive therapy has completely changed my life.  I am doing things I never thought I could do and I am doing them without anxiety!

I made the decision to practice Dr. Richard’s methods in real life situations after having practiced them in the safe environment of the group settings.  To practice "slow talk", reading and speaking in front of people I joined a bible study group. I volunteered to work in a thrift store to practice meeting and talking to new people without blushing! Next step was being in front of a big crowd without feeling faint, anxious and turning beet red! I became a Eucharistic minister at my Church.  I can now comfortably, and without anxiety, be in front of 600 or more people.

The first weeks of each new step on my list of hierarchies I would just say, "stop!" to my ANTS, sing to myself or concentrate on my breathing. I am now involved in so many things I avoided because of SAD all these years they are too numerous to mention here.

When I retired several years ago my one big fear was that I would become homebound because of my SAD. Thanks to Dr. Richards’s methods, it is quite the opposite!



Dear Dr. Richards,

Your program has brought me hope and help.  Working through the series has given me tools for managing and minimizing my SAD.  The structured approach provided by the tape series and workbook was essential to my success in implementing them.

In the past few months, I have been going through a time of great challenges and stress. Because of this, I haven't been able to attend meetings, or even devote the half-hour per day to cognitive therapy. Still, because of all the time I've previously spent on the cognitive therapy, I can draw upon that strength now. It's with me wherever I am — on the freeway, in business meetings, and in the classroom.

All the best,



Dr. Richards,

The biggest benefits of the audio series for me have been feelings of hope and inspiration. My mother died unexpectedly at the age of 61, soon after I began using the program. Her death was especially painful for me because, due to my social anxiety, I had not been able to form any close, loving relationships with anyone other than her.

Fortunately, Dr. Richards’ series gave me hope that I could change and that I could eventually form other relationships and this hope helped me to get through this painful period.

The series also gave me the inspiration to return to school to work on a master’s degree.  I had wanted to do this for years, but my anxiety had held me back.

Finally, the series has helped me in my social life.  During the time since I began using the series, I met a wonderful woman.  We were married in July, and the skills I learned in the series have been of great help in my relationship with her.



Dear Dr Richards,

When I came upon your website, I was hopeless of ever leading an even somewhat normal life.  I couldn’t go places by myself, talk to any strangers, and had trouble leaving the house. Although I am still far from where I want to be, my latest successes are beyond what I thought myself capable of.  The mantra that has done the most for me is "Stop the thinking and start the doing!"  Especially when it comes to anticipating events, but also in everyday life. I would always think things to pieces and analyze everything! And my anxiety would continue to rise.

I recently planned my own wedding and got married.  This included meeting with many "strangers" and being decisive, and also many events where I was the "center of attention". (Two prior things that gave me extreme anxiety). I found that when it came to things I had to do, (reminds me of the story of the woman who had to drive her son to the hospital) and if I chose not to anticipate them, I would make it through unscathed and pretty successful!

My wedding day, I didn’t give a thought to all the eyes that would be on me, and instead was giving orders to everyone so that things went smoothly, and I even managed to have fun. I even danced without alcohol influence, something I have never done before!

I still have a ways to go but I can look back at my successes and see how far I’ve come!  Thank you Dr. Richards for all that you’ve done for us.




Dear Dr. Richards,

Growing up with an overly domineering father and a mother whom never missed an opportunity to criticize me (as mothers are so prone to do), I suffered from a major lack of self-esteem, although I didn't know it until I was well into my 20s. Sure my parents' hearts were (and still are) in the right place, and they love me dearly, but all their well-meaning criticism took its toll.

After trying everything from regular therapy to "neuropsychological" therapy to individual counseling, I went looking for answers on my own and stumbled onto this thing called Social Anxiety Disorder while browsing on the Web. I did a bit more research and got so excited when I discovered this condition I have actually has a name! Thankfully, my anxiety was relatively mild, as I had been fighting my ANTs for years without even knowing that that's what I was doing.

So I signed up for the social anxiety group in San Diego, thinking it was going to be just another waste of time like all the rest of the therapy that I had tried.  Man, was I wrong!

Dr. Richards' tapes helped me turn the tables on my ANTs and gave me the confidence to believe in myself. The messages echoed in the tapes and in the workbook reinforced the revolutionary (for me) idea that I was actually a good person — someone who was entitled to friendship, companionship and (gasp!) even love!

While I'm still working up to this last part, I am now more confident than I have ever been and more willing to step out from behind my computer and TV screen and actually attend social events — something that I had avoided for years, even in college. I even signed up for a monthly newsletter of local social events and have attended several.

As for my parents, they still heckle me, but I now I have the tools to handle their criticism, and it doesn't affect me nearly as badly as it used to.



Dear Dr. Richards,

I have suffered from social anxiety basically my entire life (I am in my mid-forties). In the absence of good medication (of course, we’d all like that quick fix), for survival, I have had to go other routes – i.e., developing my own coping/cognitive strategies to implement in my daily life.

Your tapes/workbook on Overcoming Social Anxiety pulls together in one package helpful information and validates the ongoing cognitive work I have been doing in years past. I’m a person who just knows when something feels right, rings true, and when it comes to self-help, I need this believing to put recommendations into action.  I feel very rooted in your work, and am very, very grateful that I discovered your program.

Since participating in the tape series, and now the behavioral group, I am using many of the strategies/concepts on a regular basis. For example, high on my hierarchy is to participate (in whatever way I define as necessary and appropriate) in large meetings – something that is required of me in my job.

I have pulled together various tips/concepts from your work that again "ring true" (and fit with the situation) and review this information prior to each meeting. It’s been tremendously helpful. I could give you numerous examples of how I have integrated strategies/concepts from The Overcoming Social Anxiety Program into my life. I strive to continue to be more liberated and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the lead in helping others with this very debilitating condition.



Dr. Richards,

Several years ago I dropped out of college in my 4th year. I was required to make some presentations and I had convinced myself that there was no way I would be able to do them. Around this time I also stopped hanging around with my family and friends because I was terrified of blushing in front of them. For several years I searched and searched for an answer thinking that I was the only one who felt like I did.

Then, thankfully, I discovered your program and realized that I was not alone. I started listening to the tapes in a behavioral group and began reinforcing the cognitive material into my head everyday.

It’s now been over a year and a half since I started your program and my life has totally changed.  I have stopped running from my fears and have learned to accept who I am.  Even though I still feel some anxiety in social situations, I have learned to just "go with the flow" and not let it pull me into the vicious circle of social anxiety.

Thanks to your program I took a big step not too long ago and got back into school. Over the next couple of years I have several presentations to give and even though I’m anxious about them I know I’ll get through them, IT’S NO BIG DEAL!

I also recently made it through my own wedding ceremony. For years I feared the day I’d walk down the aisle and I’m not sure I would have gone through with it had I not been in your program (my wife is especially grateful to you for this.)




Note From San Diego Group Leader:

How Dr. Richards' Audio Tape Series Has Changed My Life

BEFORE - I thought that everyone else was better than me. I desperately wanted to be liked by everyone. I didn’t like myself, I felt very self-conscious all the time, I blushed constantly and the fear I felt inside was unbearable at times. I remember times when I would head to the nearest bathroom (as soon as I could get out of the anxiety situation) and burst into tears, my emotions were running so high. It was physically and mentally draining to constantly hide my thoughts and feelings.

I used to worry so much about an upcoming meeting or social event, I would think up all kinds of excuses not to attend and I avoided these situations as much as possible. That was before I found out about Dr. Richards and his Audio Therapy program.

NOW – I do like myself and who I am, some people may not like me, but that is their problem, not mine. At work, I actually enjoy our weekly meetings now, and it feels good to know that people want to listen to what I have to say. I don’t worry about making mistakes anymore; everyone else makes them, so I can too. I don’t stress out at work anymore. I still blush sometimes, but I know it is nothing to be afraid of, and nobody else cares about it anyway.

What I have learned from Dr. Richards' tape series and what I appreciate even more than overcoming my social anxiety is my new outlook that I have on life. I have a choice on how I react to every situation I encounter, I am in control of my thoughts and feelings – I find this so comforting and yet so very powerful.

Life is great. I am the happiest I have ever been. I am in control of my life doing what I want. Thank you Dr. Richards and San Diego Group members for helping me to get where I am today.