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This paper introduces a novel approach to internet treatment for social anxiety. The goal of this treatment was to address key limitations of current standalone treatments (Helgadottir, Menzies, Onslow, Packman, & O'Brian, 2009). The 'computer psychologist' designed for this study used fully automated, prewritten individualised sample answers in order to simulate a human-human interaction through a human-computer interface. Two males who sought treatment for stuttering and met the diagnosis for social phobia according to the DSM-IV and ICD-10 criteria were selected for this study. After receiving the treatment, both users no longer met criteria for social phobia. Also, significant improvements were observed on other psychometric tests, including measures of unhelpful cognitions, behavioural avoidance, quality of life, and low mood. The quality of the interaction appeared to be similar to face-to-face therapy, indicating that the 'computer psychologist' established an effective therapeutic relationship, and the automated techniques used were sufficiently engaging to prompt users to log on regularly and complete the treatment program.

Original publication

DOI

10.1375/bech.26.4.254

Type

Journal article

Journal

Behaviour Change

Publication Date

01/01/2009

Volume

26

Pages

254 - 270