Cognitive therapy for social phobia: individual versus group treatment.
Stangier U., Heidenreich T., Peitz M., Lauterbach W., Clark DM.
Cognitive-behavioural group treatment is the treatment of choice for social phobia. However, as not all patients benefit, an additional empirically validated psychological treatment would be of value. In addition, few studies have examined whether a group treatment format is more effective than an individual treatment format. A randomized controlled trial addressed these issues by comparing individual cognitive therapy, along the lines advocated by Clark and Wells (Clark, D.M. and Wells, A., 1995. A cognitive model of social phobia. In: R. G. Heimberg, M. Liebowitz, D. Hope and F. Schneier (Eds.), Social Phobia: Diagnosis, assessment, and treatment (pp. 69-93). New York: Guilford.), with a group version of the treatment and a wait-list control condition. 71 patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for social phobia participated in the trial, 65 completed the posttreatment assessment and 59 completed a six-month follow-up. Social phobia measures indicated significant pretreatment to posttreatment improvement in both individual and group cognitive therapy. Individual cognitive therapy was superior to group cognitive therapy on several measures at both posttreatment and follow-up. The effects of treatment on general measures of mood and psychopathology were less substantial than the effects on social phobia. The results suggest that individual cognitive therapy is a specific treatment for social phobia and that it's effectiveness may be diminished by delivery in a group format.