This 3-hour intensive workshop provides an in-depth discussion of five evidence-based cognitive-behavioral strategies for the treatment of social anxiety disorder: experiments/exposure; cognitive restructuring; mindful focus plus thought defusion; assertion training; and core belief change work. Attendees will learn the basics of how to apply, combine, and adapt these strategies to the needs of socially anxious individuals. Several of these strategies will be demonstrated during the session through role plays. There will also be discussion on how to design and implement exposures as experiments to test and modify automatic thoughts, underlying assumptions and core beliefs for the purpose of decreasing social anxiety and shame, and building self-confidence. Many client worksheets, instructional handouts and questionnaires are provided for use and adaptation in your own practices.

Attendees will become familiarized with the major debates among the three waves of cognitive-behavioral therapies as to the most effective strategies for treating social anxiety disorder, and how to integrate the best of each of these variant approaches:
–exposures for habituation v. experiments to change thoughts and beliefs (aka violating expectancy);
–cognitive restructuring v. thought defusion plus mindful focus;
–cognitive restructuring before or after experiments;
–teaching mindfulness as meditation v. teaching attention training (aka curiosity training) during interactions;
–in-session v. homework experiments (aka exposures);
–in vivo v. role-played v. imaginal v. virtual reality experiments;
—paradoxical (aka social mishap / shame-attacking / decatastrophizing) experiments v. straightforward experiments;
–using fear hierarchies v. cognition to choose exposures;
–eliminating safety behaviors v. the judicious use of safety behaviors during experiments;
–whether it is important to work on changing core beliefs or only automatic thoughts;
–group v. individual CBT;
–social skills training v. CBT;
–the pros and cons of medications.

NOTE ON LEVEL OF PARTICIPANT EXPERIENCE: This workshop is designed for those who have already been trained in at least the basics of cognitive-behavioral therapies in any of its variants, such as cognitive therapy, Acceptance and Commitment therapy and exposure therapy. Prior experience in working with social anxiety is not necessary.

Larry Cohen, LICSW, ACT: cochair and cofounder, National Social Anxiety Center (NSAC); director and psychotherapist, NSAC District of Columbia (Social Anxiety Help).

Holly Scott, LPC, ACT: board representative, founder and psychotherapist, NSAC Dallas (Uptown Dallas Counseling).

(This workshop was a Master Clinician Session presented on March 28, 2019 at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America conference in Chicago, IL.)



* These slides and handouts were updated when this seminar was given again two years later, in June, 2021.

Our workshops and webinars are offered as an educational resource for
mental health professionals who are already familiar with cognitive and behavioral therapies.
These resources alone do not suffice as adequate training
to conduct cognitive and behavioral therapies
for those with social anxiety and related problems.