Sep 26, 2011


This three-session group intervention uses cognitive-behavioral strategies to reduce anxiety in children with social phobia. An experimental efficacy evaluation conducted with a small sample of children found that the intervention had positive impacts on anxiety and depression, but no impact on social competence.


Target population: Children ages 8 to 11 with social phobia

The Brief Group Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention is a group-based treatment for children with social phobia. The program begins with one individual session held with each child and their parents. This session is used to describe the treatment protocol, explain important concepts, and review the child’s fear and avoidance hierarchy. Parents are informed that the child will be given homework assignments and are encouraged to ask questions.

The group intervention serves 5 to 7 children at a time and consists of three sessions that are approximately three hours each. The first session is devoted to education about social anxiety. Children are taught to recognize cognitive, physiological, and behavioral aspects of their anxiety and learn basic cognitive techniques to manage anxiety. The therapist also introduces children to the idea of exposure scenarios and demonstrates a possible scenario. The next two sessions focus on in-group exposure exercises and cognitive strategies. Children are asked to keep a daily diary of anxiety provoking situations as homework. After the second session, children are also asked to complete an exposure exercise with the help of their parents.


Gallagher, H.M., Rabian, B.A., McCloskey, M.S. (2004). A brief group cognitive-behavioral intervention for social phobia in childhood.Anxiety Disorders, 18, 459-479.

Evaluated population: Twenty-three children between the ages of 8 and 11 years old who met criteria for social phobia participated in the study. There were 12 female children and 11 male children. Thirteen children were Caucasian and 10 were African American.

Approach: Children and parents participated in a screening interview prior to being randomly assigned to the treatment group or a wait-list control group. Twelve children were assigned to the treatment group and 11 to the control group. Assessments, consisting of questionnaires and a diagnostic interview, were conducted at pre-test, post-test, and a 3-week follow-up. Children’s anxiety, depression, and social competence were measured at each time point.

Results: The intervention had a statistically significant positive impact on almost all measures of anxiety and social phobia, including self-report, parent-report, and clinical interviews three weeks after the end of the intervention. The intervention also had a significant impact on depression, measured by child self-report. The intervention did not have an impact on children’s social competence.



Gallagher, H.M., Rabian, B.A., McCloskey, M.S. (2004). A brief group cognitive-behavioral intervention for social phobia in childhood.Anxiety Disorders, 18, 459-479.

KEYWORDS: children (3-11), elementary, middle school, males and females (co-ed), high-risk, white/Caucasian, anxiety disorders/symptoms, social skills/life skills, clinic/provider-based, counseling/therapy,

Program information last updated 9/26/2011.