BACKGROUND: Loneliness and social avoidance are widespread and serious mental health problems. People experiencing loneliness or social avoidance have difficulties maintaining ordinary life activities and often experience profound suffering. How do we as clinicians deal with or help people out of loneliness and social avoidance?
AIMS: In this paper, we introduce the issue on loneliness and social avoidance. We do so by first defining loneliness and social avoidance and outlining the impact on mental health issues of these phenomena. Next, we introduce the six papers central to the special issue along with some thoughts on how to understand therapy and treatment of social avoidance.
DISCUSSION: We discuss new directions and how to move beyond more conventional therapeutic approaches to these problems.