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What Are the Different Types of Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder?

A List of the Different Types of Therapy for SAD


Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

If you have been recently diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD), you may be exploring therapy options. Although cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown effective and is most commonly used in treating SAD, there are other options as well. Here is a list of the types of therapy you may receive for SAD.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a collection of techniques designed to modify unhelpful thinking styles. The relationship with your therapist is much like that of a student-teacher; you will even be asked to complete homework assignments. CBT is one of the few therapies shown by research to reliably treat SAD. CBT requires effort and involvement by the client in order for therapy to be effective.

Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral group therapy (CBGT) involves putting the techniques of CBT to practice in a group setting. The advantage of participating in a group is twofold: 1) You have the chance to meet other people with similar problems, and 2) You can easily practice exposures in a group setting. If your doctor recommends attending CBGT sessions, ensure that they are specifically targeted towards those with SAD.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is rooted in Buddhism. The goal of ACT is not the reduction of social anxiety symptoms, but rather the acceptance of them. ACT theorists argue that it is the struggle against negative emotions that causes psychological disturbance. It is expected that your symptoms will be reduced as a byproduct of learning to accept them.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) involves techniques borrowed from CBT and psychoanalysis. During IPT, the focus is on the interpersonal relationships in your life. Although IPT was originally developed for the treatment of depression, this type of therapy shows potential promise as an emerging treatment for SAD.


Psychoanalytic therapy involves an examination of unconscious conflict believed to be the root of psychological disturbance. Although there is limited research support for the use of psychoanalysis in treating SAD, studies have shown it to be helpful with regard to anxiety in general.


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