Thirty-six people undergoing a 12-week CBT programme for social phobia completed questionnaires before and after their treatment. Their long-term recovery was assessed three months later.
After CBT, the participants were less likely to believe a hypothetical social situation would cause others to think ill of them; were less likely to think it reflected badly on the kind of person they are; and less likely to think it would have long-term negative implications for their relationships and/or career. Of these, only reductions in the participants' belief that negative social events revealed bad things about them, independently predicted reduced social phobia at three months.
Whereas previous research has suggested social phobics are overly concerned by what others think of them, this research highlights the importance of how they view themselves. "It is ultimately the negative inferences they draw with regard to the self that may be important for maintaining the disorder", the authors said.
Wilson, J.K. & Rapee, R.M. (2005). The interpretation of negative social events in social phobia: changes during treatment and relationship to outcome. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 43, 373-389.
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