Title

A Cognitive-Behavioral Group Intervention for Social Phobia: Extension to a Preadolescent Sample

Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Brian Rabian

Advisor Department

Psychology

Abstract

Little research exists on the treatment of social phobia in childhood. Given that onset of social phobia prior to age 11 may signal a chronic and treatment refractory course, development of empirically supported interventions are of critical importance. The present study provides pilot data on the efficacy of a cognitive-behavioral group intervention for children, modeled on a successful adult and adolescent program. Twenty-three children between the ages of 8 and 11 years were recruited from the community by means of flyers distributed in the schools, advertisements, and contact with pediatricians offices. Children meeting a specified cutoff on a measure of social anxiety were administered a diagnostic interview. Parents were administered a corresponding parent interview. Those children meeting criteria for social phobia on the basis of the parent or child interview were assigned to a treatment or a wait-list control group. The cognitive-behavioral group intervention consisted of cognitive restructuring, education about anxiety, and exposure exercises. The intervention was conducted over the course of three weeks, with an additional three week follow-up. All wait-list participants were offered the intervention at completion of the three-week follow-up. Results indicate that children in the treatment group demonstrated improvements on the majority of parent, child, and interviewer measures, relative to wait-list participants. Treatment participants generally improved with regard to child self-report of anxiety and depression, parent report of their child's anxiety and depression, and diagnostic status. The majority of gains were observed from pretest to follow-up. Children's social competence does not appear to have been affected by treatment. Findings indicate that cognitive-behavioral techniques may have utility in the treatment of social phobia in children. Limitations of the present study, as well as implications and future research directions, are discussed.