This is one that I go back and forth on... Dr. Richards insists that we can all overcome social anxiety, but I really have a tough time with that. I really think that there's a population that is so incredibly beaten down by SA, at best they will only make enough progress to get by, and then settle with that.
Speaking for myself, I've overcome all the basic functional SA issues: Shopping, waiting at a checkout stand, talking to a clerk in a store and asking for assistance, phone calls, work, making presentations at work, small talk with strangers, etc. All these things I can now do without any SA.
I've made zero progress on SA relating to interpersonal relationships and socializing. In this area, the SA is just so incredibly strong and it's totally demoralizing. I've actually gotten much worse as I've made progress in the other areas mentioned above. I have very little hope that I would ever get to a point where I would be able to be in a relationship, for example.
I think a lot has to do with the roots of your SA. For example, did a parent(s) publicly humiliate you in a way that touched upon sexuality, or did they humiliate you in a way that touched upon intelligence or athletic ability. Another important factor is how the SA symptoms effect you, such as if you have very bad visible symptoms (severe blush response, heavy sweating, visible shaking, etc). I really think that those with visible symptoms are gonna have an extremely distressing time overcoming SA...many times more difficult than those without any visible symptoms.
To be perfectly honest...I'm sort of at the place were I'm thinking that this is "as good as it gets". I turn 50yo in a month, I am able to work as a "professional", I have a nice house, car, bla bla bla. I'm athletic and I do participate in local running and crossFit activities. BUT, I have zero social life and I have no friends. I work from home on Mondays and Tuesdays, so it's typical that I don't talk to anybody for four days straight (other than baristas, store clerks, etc).
I guess what I'm saying is that my SA has improved very significantly over the last year, but I hit a wall when it comes to the interpersonal/relationship/socialization aspect of SA. I don't have the energy or strength to overcome this, and my thinking is that I'm prepared to take the progress I've made and try to live my life the best way I can.