Date of this Version
Cognitive and Behavioral Practice 17:1 (February 2010), pp. 56–65.
Guided by the American Psychological Association’s principles of evidence-based practice, this article reviews a single-case treatment outcome study whereby a client characteristic, sexual identity, was integrated into the assessment and treatment of social anxiety symptoms. The case involved a young adult European-American male who presented to a training clinic with a primary diagnosis of social anxiety disorder as well as secondary symptoms of excessive worry and concerns of sexual identity confusion. Recent evidence suggests that gay men report more symptoms of social anxiety when compared to heterosexual men, and those who make more efforts to conceal their sexual identity experience increased anxiety and have greater difficulty committing to a personal identity. Further, it has been hypothesized that fear of rejection from heterosexual individuals underlies this anxiety. The client attended 50 sessions over the course of 18 months. Treatment progress was assessed via self-report questionnaires assessing social anxiety and worry. Consistent with principles of evidence-based practice, a cognitive behavioral treatment protocol was employed at the outset of therapy and resulted in a decline in the client’s social anxiety scores. However, once the case conceptualization and treatment focus shifted to focus on sexual identity, his scores continued to decline at an even steeper rate. He ultimately came to identify himself as having a same-sex sexual orientation, began living his life in a manner consistent with that identification, and reported a number of positive outcomes at termination of therapy. Implications for treatment of social anxiety in sexual minorities are discussed.