Neural Mediators of Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder

The Anxiety Disorders Research Center is currently conducting a study specifically examining the effectiveness of two different types of therapy for individuals with social anxiety disorder. In addition, the study is examining how brain activity changes after individuals with social anxiety disorder have undergone therapy.

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by significant anxiety provoked by social or performance situations in which embarrassment may occur. Exposure to such situations leads to an immediate anxiety response. Most often, individuals with social anxiety disorder will avoid social or performance situations.

The Neural Mediators of Behavior Therapy in Social Anxiety study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The study is designed to compare the neural mechanisms for two different versions of behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder. The first version involves teaching methods for slowing physiological responding, changing erroneous thoughts about anxiety inducing situations, and modifying behaviors in order to learn to overcome fears of specific experiences, through exposure therapy. The second treatment version involves strategies designed to replace anxious physical responding and negative thinking with mindful observation, and shift behavior towards achieving life goals, again through exposure therapy.

University of California, Los Angeles
Principal Investigator: 
Michelle Craske, PhD
Eligibility Criteria: 

Individuals who meet diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder are eligible for the study if they are between the ages of 18 to 45, are English speaking, are not currently suffering from major medical conditions, and are either un-medicated or stabilized on medications for anxiety or depression.

Screening Procedures: Interested participants should leave their contact information (i.e., name, phone number, best times to call) at (310) 206-9191 (a voice answering machine). Participants are then phoned by study personnel and asked a few simple screening questions. If eligible, participants are scheduled for an in-person, no-cost, diagnostic evaluation (approximately 2-3 hours) at the UCLA Psychology Clinic and also will complete an fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) assessment.

Treatment Procedures: Treatment is conducted one on one, over 12 weekly visits (at the UCLA Psychology Clinic). Assessments are conducted prior to beginning treatment, at completion of treatment and 6 months later. These assessments include diagnostic evaluations, a battery of self-report questionnaires, behavioral observation, physiological recording in a laboratory, and a repeat of the fMRI at post treatment.

Payment/Fees: Treatment fees are from $0 to $50 per session based on income. There are no fees for the initial and final assessments. Parking costs for each assessment are reimbursed upon request. In addition, participants are offered $45 for each fMRI session, gift certificates in the value of $15 for follow-up assessments at post treatment, 6 months and 12 months, and $25 for follow-up assessments at 12 months and 24 months.

Andrea Niles, (310) 206-9191 or
Los Angeles, CA

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ADAA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, OCD, PTSD, depression, and related disorders and to improving the lives of all people who suffer from them.