Category: Adult Anxiety - Social
Although cognitive behavioral group therapy (CBGT; Heimberg & Becker, 2002) for social anxiety disorder (SAD) has been shown to be efficacious in reducing anxiety, less is known about the mechanisms leading to change in SAD. xamining the target mechanisms of change in SAD.is necessary anxiety, ating f One potential mechanism is decentering, or the ability to observe thoughts and feelings as objective events in the mind (Safran & Segal, 1990). Although decentering is not explicitly targeted in CBGT, it has been proposed as the target mechanism behind cognitive restructuring (e.g. Fresco et al., 2007) and has been shown to predict change in SAD over and above changes in cognitive reappraisal (Hayes-Skelton & Lee, in preparation). Additionally, decentering may shift individuals’ self-focused attention, social cost bias, and cognitive reappraisal by allowing individuals to disengage their attention from negative thoughts and cues, all of which serve to maintain or exacerbate symptoms of SAD (Hofmann, 2007). However, the relations between these mechanisms have not been tested.
In the current study, we examined decentering, self-focused attention, social cost bias, and cognitive reappraisal as mechanisms of SAD across CBGT in a path model. Given the literature positing decentering as a common target mechanism, we hypothesized that changes in self-focused attention, social cost bias, and cognitive reappraisal would have an effect on changes in SAD through changes in decentering. The sample consisted of 59 clients diagnosed with SAD, holding a variety of diverse identities. Self-report measures of social cost bias (SCQ), reappraisal (TCQ), self-focused attention (FAQ), decentering (EQ- Decentering subscale), and social anxiety (LSAS) were collected, and their residualized gains calculated. The results indicated that of the paths leading to decentering, only the path from reappraisal was significant (β= .43, p= .003), with the paths from social cost bias (β= -.28, p= .07) and self-focused attention (β= -.03, p= .85) not being significant. Of the paths lead to social anxiety, the paths from decentering (β= -.28, p= .02), social cost bias (β= .44, p= .001), and self-focused attention (β= .29, p= .01) were significant, with the path from reappraisal not being significant (β= -.07, p= .55). The results indicate that social cost bias, self-focused attention, and decentering had a direct effect on SAD, whereas cognitive reappraisal did not. In contrast, cognitive reappraisal had a direct effect on decentering and an indirect effect on SAD through decentering, whereas social cost bias and self-focused attention did not. Such findings indicate that cognitive reappraisal has an effect on SAD through decentering, whereas social cost bias and self-focused attention, both of which did not have an effect on decentering, have a direct effect on SAD.