The Pattern of Subjective Anxiety During In-Session Exposures Over the Course of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Clients With Social Anxiety Disorder

Sarah A. Hayes, Debra A. Hope, Richard G. Heimberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Exposure-based therapies are efficacious treatments for social anxiety disorder (i.e., Gould et al., 1997). Much of the theory behind these treatments is derived from Foa and colleagues' (Foa, Huppert, & Cahill, 2005; Foa & Kozak, 1986) work on emotional processing. However, there has been little research examining individual differences in emotional processing patterns within and between treatment sessions among clients with social anxiety disorder. This study utilized longitudinal data analytic methods to examine changes in subjective anxiety during the first 3 exposure sessions in group and individual cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder. The results of this study provide preliminary evidence that, although anxiety generally decreases across exposures, some individuals experience considerable fluctuations in anxiety during a single exposure. Although anxiety during the first exposure was not significantly related to outcome, the relationship between anxiety during exposure and outcome became stronger during subsequent exposures. Overall, this study highlights the need to conduct more fine-grained analyses to better understand the mechanisms underlying exposure-based therapies for social anxiety disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-299
Number of pages14
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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