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Michael’s Story

Michael is a 44-year-old married man who lives with his wife and two children. He is worried about being negatively evaluated when he interacts with authority figures at work (for example, talking to his boss, making phone calls to senior executives within the company) or when speaking in front of a group of people (for example, giving presentations during meetings at work).

He is afraid that other people will think that he is stupid and incompetent, even though others have told him that they respect and admire his skills and knowledge. He is very concerned that his mind will go blank, that he will not be able to think of anything to say, or that he will use the wrong words. He first noticed a problem when he was unable to participate in classes at university because he felt too self-conscious and anxious.

Michael has turned down numerous promotions at work because they would involve giving more presentations and interacting more often with senior executives. He is considering quitting his job even though he loves the actual work. In addition, he has become increasingly isolated from friends and family, and his wife gets frustrated with his constant need for reassurance that everything will be okay. He feels tense and anxious much of the time, especially when facing a planned meeting with his boss or a scheduled presentation.