Social Phobia: The Role of In-Situation Safety Behaviors in Maintaining Anxiety and Negative Beliefs - Republished Article.
Wells A., Clark DM., Salkovskis P., Ludgate J., Hackmann A., Gelder M.
One of the puzzles surrounding social phobia is that patients with this problem are often exposed to phobic situations without showing a marked reduction in their fears. It is possible that individuals with social phobia engage in behaviors in the feared situation that are intended to avert feared catastrophes but that also prevent disconfirmation of their fears. This hypothesis was tested in a single case series of eight socially phobic patients. All patients received one session of exposure alone and one session of exposure plus decrease in "safety" behaviors in a counterbalanced within-subject design. Exposure plus decreased safety behaviors was significantly better than exposure alone in reducing within-situation anxiety and belief in the feared catastrophe. Other factors that may moderate exposure effects are also discussed.