Psychology, Department of
Automatic Thoughts and Cognitive Restructuring in Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder
Date of this Version
Cognitive Therapy and Research 34:1 (February 2010), pp. 1–12.
The goal in (Heimberg, R. G. . A manual for conducting Cognitive Behavior Group Therapy for social phobia (2nd ed.), unpublished manuscript) cognitive behavioral group therapy (CBGT) for social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is to challenge irrational automatic thoughts and create exposures to provide disconfirming evidence for these irrational thoughts as well as habituation to fearful stimuli. Yet little is known about the types of thoughts reported by socially anxious individuals in therapy or which thoughts therapists select for cognitive restructuring in CBGT sessions. The present study analyzed the semantic content of automatic thoughts reported in CBGT and found that the most common thoughts related to poor social performance, negative labels by others, and the anticipation of negative outcomes in feared situations. Principle components analyses indicated the automatic thoughts reflected three underlying themes: Experiencing Anxiety, Negative Self-Evaluation, and Fear of Negative Evaluation. The paper also describes exploratory analyses of which thoughts became the focus of cognitive restructuring exercises and their relationship to treatment outcome. Implications for cognitive therapy are also discussed.
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