Category: Adult Anxiety - Social

Symposium

Symposium 104 - Putting the Positive Into SAD: Understanding of SAD to Optimize Treatment Efficacy and Effectiveness

Saturday, November 18
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Location: Aqua Salon A & B, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: Adult Anxiety | Social Anxiety | Emotion
Presentation Type: Symposium

Once considered a "neglected anxiety disorder" (Liebowitz et al., 1985), considerable progress has been made towards understanding and effectively treating social anxiety disorder (SAD). Much of this success is owed to the development and validation of cognitive and behavioral models of SAD. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the psychological treatment of choice for SAD (Mayo-Wilson et al., 2014), and accordingly, is being disseminated widely across diverse settings and patient populations. However, CBT does not result in symptom relief for everyone (Hofmann & Smits, 2008), and many individuals with SAD end treatment with residual symptoms that continue to impair functioning (Eng et al., 2005). The success of applying CBT across diverse contexts is fundamentally limited by the precision and comprehensiveness of the theoretical models upon which those treatments are based. An incomplete understanding of the pathophysiological processes that maintain SAD will ultimately hinder dissemination efforts. The current symposium seeks to address this challenge by exploring the potential value of broadening conceptualizations and treatment approaches for SAD to incorporate empirical findings about the positive spectrum of human functioning.
Prevailing cognitive behavioral models emphasize negative emotions (e.g., fear, anxiety), cognitions (e.g., inflated threat appraisals), and behaviors (e.g., avoidance) as central to the persistence and treatment of SAD. However, research also demonstrates that positivity impairments (1) reliably exist in SAD (Kashdan, 2007), (2) are distinguishable from negative affect-focused symptoms (Alden & Taylor, 2011), (3) are linked to important outcomes in SAD (e.g., social relationship functioning, well-being; Kashdan et al., 2011), and (4) may not be sufficiently targeted by existing intervention approaches (e.g., Eng et al., 2005). This symposium brings together researchers using innovative methods to study and target positivity deficits in SAD. Presenters will discuss new research (1) elucidating the neural basis of disrupted positive social connections in SAD (Richey), (2) unpacking the hour-by-hour responses of people to their most positive and negative moments, with a focus on understanding how social anxiety influences those outcomes (Doorley), (3) examining the unique contribution of fear of positive evaluation to changes in the positive psychological attribute of self-compassion following a mindfulness-based intervention (Weeks), and (4) examining the therapeutic potential of a computer-delivered approach/avoidance training procedure designed to enhance positive social outcomes in SAD (Taylor). The symposium will conclude with remarks from our discussant, Dr. Lynn Alden, whose pioneering work illuminated the importance of studying positivity impairments in SAD. Dr. Alden will synthesize data across the presentations and discuss implications for refining prevailing models and interventions for people suffering from SAD. The presenters and audience will be challenged to consider whether and how empirical findings on positivity deficits in SAD can enhance the application of CBT-based approaches across diverse contexts.

Learning Objectives:

Charles T. Taylor

Assistant Professor
University of California, San Diego

Presentation(s):

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Lynn E. Alden

Professor
University of British Columbia

Presentation(s):

    Send Email for Lynn Alden

    John A. Richey

    Virginia Tech

    Presentation(s):

    Send Email for John Richey

    James D. Doorley

    Graduate Student
    George Mason University

    Presentation(s):

    Send Email for James Doorley

    Justin Weeks

    Nebraska Medicine Psychology Department

    Presentation(s):

    Send Email for Justin Weeks

    Charles T. Taylor

    Assistant Professor
    University of California, San Diego

    Presentation(s):

    Send Email for Charles Taylor


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