Cognitive behavioral group treatment for social phobia: Comparison with a credible placebo control

Richard G. Heimberg, Cynthia S. Dodge, Debra A. Hope, Charles R. Kennedy, Linda J. Zollo, Robert E. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

377 Scopus citations


Forty-nine patients participated in a study comparing cognitive-behavioral group treatment (CBGT) for social phobia with a credible placebo control. CBGT consisted of exposure to simulated phobic events, cognitive restructuring of maladaptive thoughts, and homework for self-directed exposure and cognitive restructuring between sessions. Control patients received a treatment package consisting of lecture-discussion and group support that was comparable to CBGT on measures of treatment credibility and outcome expectations. At pretest, posttest, and 3- and 6-month follow-ups, patients completed assessments that included clinician ratings, self-report measures, and behavioral, physiological, and cognitive-subjective measures derived from a behavioral simulation of a personally relevant phobic event. Both groups improved on most measures, but, at both posttest and follow-up, CBGT patients were rated as more improved than controls and reported less anxiety before and during the behavioral test. At follow-up, CBGT patients also reported significantly fewer negative and more positive self-statements than controls on a thought-listing task following the behavioral test. Regardless of treatment condition, follow-up changes in clinician-rated phobic severity were significantly related to changes on the thought-listing measure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety disorders
  • cognitive-behavioral group treatment
  • group treatment
  • social anxiety
  • social phobia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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