Overcome Social Anxiety

The Overcome Social Anxiety program aims to help college students improve their social anxiety through cognitive behavioral therapy. The program is administered online and targets college students showing high levels of anxiety. Participants complete the program over a period of four to six months and receive email reminders to complete the modules.

The program includes seven modules, focusing on: (1) thinking exercises, (2) challenging thinking patterns, (3) creating models to deal with social anxiety, (4) experimenting behaviorally with situations that invoke social anxiety, (5) further challenging thinking, (6) self-processing, and (7) relapse prevention. Modules are individualized for the user based upon responses to a pre-questionnaire on common social anxiety thoughts and avoidance behaviors. A post-questionnaire collects the same information allowing the user to retain his/her data from before and after the treatment.

Blueprints has certified one study evaluating this program (McCall et al., 2018), in which researchers evaluated the program in 101 participants randomly assigned to intervention (N = 51) or waitlist control (N = 50) conditions. Participants self-reported their anxiety and quality of life at baseline and following the four-month online program. Participants were recruited from a large, public Canadian university through an undergraduate psychology course. Students were offered course credit in exchange for participation. Inclusion criteria were showing subclinical levels of social anxiety as determined by endorsing at least one of seven items on a pre-screening questionnaire, not receiving treatment for a chronic mental health condition in the six months leading up to the study, and not having been formerly diagnosed with social anxiety by a clinician. Results showed that intervention participants showed significantly greater reductions in social anxiety at posttest relative to participants in the control condition.

To date, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis of implementing Overcoming Social Anxiety.

References:

McCall, H. C., Richardson, C. G., Helgadottir, F. D., & Chen, F. S. (2018). Evaluating a web-based social anxiety intervention among university students: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research20(3).

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