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Arlin Cuncic

Online Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder

By September 25, 2007

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One of the dilemmas faced by people with the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is that they may be too afraid or embarrassed to seek help. Although treatment of SAD ideally consists of face-to-face interaction with a therapist, online treatment offers promise as a point of entry into therapy for people who may otherwise never receive help.

Dr. Nick Titov, a clinical psychologist, and Dr. Gavin Andrews, a psychiatrist, both of the University of New South Wales, have developed an online therapy program designed to provide education and therapy for Australians living with SAD. Their internet-based Social Phobia Education Program (SPEP) teaches you about the symptoms of the disorder and how best to cope. It involves weekly lessons as well as contact with a therapist online. Early results from their study show that improvement seen in the program is as good as results from face-to-face treatment. For those living in Australia, volunteers are being recruited to start the program in early October. Perhaps this program will serve as a flagship for others of its kind internationally, and will pave the way for other innovative treatment options.

September 29, 2007 at 1:28 pm
(1) Karen Anema says:

great overview of the topic

May 27, 2011 at 5:30 pm
(2) Anxiety Survivor says:

Sounds very promising Arline. Nice work. Hopefully more work will be done soon in this area of treatment.

July 28, 2012 at 9:18 am
(3) Fjola Helgadottir says:

Hi Arlin – nice article!

There have been some great advancements in the field in the 5 years since this article was written. Research teams in Australia, and worldwide, have been getting strong results in clinical trials for online social anxiety treatments. Furthermore, a promising new service (AI-Therapy) uses CBT and a simulated therapist to treat social anxiety. A good recent review of the state-of-the-art can be found in the paper “Current and Future Trends in Internet-Supported Mental Health Interventions” by Barak and Grohol.


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