This 2-hour workshop provides an overview of five evidence-based cognitive-behavioral strategies for the treatment of social anxiety disorder: experiments/exposure; cognitive restructuring; mindful focus/ thought defusion; assertion training; 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. 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 building self-confidence. Participants will be introduced to some of the debates within the CBT world on the most effective strategies for social anxiety: group v. individual; cognitive restructuring v. thought defusion and mindful focus; cognitive restructuring before or after experiments; teaching mindfulness as meditation v. curiosity training during interactions; exposures for habituation v. experiments to change thoughts and beliefs; use of “social mishap” v. straightforward experiments; whether or not to work on underlying beliefs or only automatic thoughts; how important is it to eliminate all safety-seeking behaviors; and whether to work on social skills training. Example client worksheets and instructional handouts are provided.
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 therapy and/or related therapies, such as Acceptance and Commitment therapy, and exposure therapy. Prior experience in working with social anxiety is not necessary.
Larry Cohen, LICSW, ACT: chair and cofounder, National Social Anxiety Center (NSAC); director and psychotherapist, NSAC District of Columbia (Social Anxiety Help).
Randy Weiss, LCSW, ACT: board representative and psychotherapist, NSAC Phoenix (Randy Weiss Therapy).
(This workshop was presented on April 8, 2018 at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America conference in Washington, DC.)
* These handouts were updated three 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.