December 10, 2019.

Hello, Colleagues,

The National Social Anxiety Center (NSAC) provides information about relevant research in service of disseminating and promoting evidence-based treatment. This month’s summary, by Holly Scott, MBA, MS, LPC from NSAC Dallas, focuses on the impact of social skills training (SST) in the treatment of adolescents with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

Olivares-Olivares et al. (2019) conducted a study to determine the effects of including SST when treating adolescents with SAD. They assessed 2505 Spanish-speaking students from seven randomly selected public and state-subsidized high schools from the Spanish region of Murcia. They chose 108 adolescents (M = 15.4 years; SD = 1.11; range: 14–17; 63% were female) for the study who scored 97 or above on the Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory (SPAI). The researchers randomly divided them into two treatment groups (with and without SST) and a waiting list control group.

The treatment groups received the Intervention Program for Adolescents with Social Phobia as outlined in manuals by Rodríguez et al. (2005) and cited below. The program abbreviation is IAFS, based on the Spanish translation. IAFS is a school-based program of 12 weekly 90-minute group sessions. Techniques include social skills training, exposure exercises, and cognitive restructuring. Only one treatment group received social skills training.

The post-intervention analysis showed significant improvement in the treatment groups with and without SST, while the waiting list group’s symptoms worsened. Even though both treatment groups improved, the group with SST obtained better results at the end of treatment and during follow-up assessments than the group without SST. The SST group also had a significantly lower dropout rate.

Do you incorporate Social Skills Training as part of your treatment of adolescents with Social Anxiety Disorder? What about when treating adults? Do you see a difference in outcomes with and without Social Skills Training?

Pablo José Olivares-Olivares, Pedro Francisco Ortiz-González, José Olivares, Role of social skills training in adolescents with social anxiety disorder, International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, Volume 19, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 41-48.

Holly Scott, MBA, MS, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor

Representative of NSAC Dallas
(Uptown Dallas Counseling)