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Internet-Delivered Cognitive Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder: A Development Pilot Series

Abstract

Background: Randomized controlled trials have established that individual cognitive therapy based on the Clark and Wells (1995) model is an effective treatment for social anxiety disorder that is superior to a range of alternative psychological and pharmacological interventions. Normally the treatment involves up to 14 weekly face-to-face therapy sessions. Aim: To develop an internet based version of the treatment that requires less therapist time. Method: An internet-delivered version of cognitive therapy (iCT) for social anxiety disorder is described. The internet-version implements all key features of the face-to-face treatment; including video feedback, attention training, behavioural experiments, and memory focused techniques. Therapist support is via a built-in secure messaging system and by brief telephone calls. A cohort of 11 patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for social anxiety disorder worked through the programme and were assessed at pretreatment and posttreatment. Results: No patients dropped out. Improvements in social anxiety and related process variables were within the range of those observed in randomized controlled trials of face-to-face CT. Nine patients (82%) were classified as treatment responders and seven (64%) achieved remission status. Therapist time per patient was only 20% of that in face-to-face CT. Conclusions: iCT shows promise as a way of reducing therapist time without compromising efficacy. Further evaluation of iCT is ongoing.

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Copyright
The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/>. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
Corresponding author
Reprint requests to David M. Clark, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3UD, UK. E-mail: david.clark@psy.ox.ac.uk
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Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
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