While adolescence is generally a time of excitement over dating, parties, and prom, for socially phobic teenagers, it can be a time of dread and misery. Feeling too anxious to even say hello to classmates in the hallway, these teenagers risk increasing isolation and anxiety throughout their lives. The present proposal details a psychosocial treatment outcome study for adolescent social phobia, which is based upon current knowledge regarding the effective application of cognitive behavioral protocols for adult social phobia developed in our setting and substantial experience in modifying these protocols for adolescents. The proposal also evaluates the incorporation of the interpersonal system of the adolescent, in this case the parents, directly into the treatment protocol based on similar work demonstrating the advantage of this approach with adult agoraphobia in our setting. Specifically, the study is concerned with evaluating the relative effectiveness of a psychosocial group treatment package for teenage children (ages 13 through 17), originating in this setting, and incorporating skill learning and behavioral exposure with or without parental involvement in selected group sessions. These two conditions will be compared to results from a wait list control group. The protocol involves education about the nature and maintenance of anxiety, identification of and training in specific behavioral skills including cognitive restructuring, social skills, and problem solving skills, and graduated in vivo exposure to anxiety provoking social situations. Systematic follow up procedures will track the short and long term benefits of these protocols. The ultimate goal of this project is the development of an effective psychosocial group treatment program with broad generality.
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