Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are both effective treatments for Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative patterns of thought and behavior. One of the core principles of CBT is that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and that by changing one aspect of this triad, we can change the others. For people with SAD, CBT can help to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about social situations, as well as to develop new, more positive and adaptive ways of thinking. Additionally, CBT can help people with SAD to learn and practice new social skills, such as initiating conversations, making eye contact, and speaking in public.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is another form of psychotherapy that can be effective in treating SAD. ACT focuses on helping people to accept and live with their thoughts and feelings, rather than trying to avoid or eliminate them. ACT also encourages people to commit to taking action towards values-based goals, even in the presence of difficult thoughts and feelings. For people with SAD, ACT can help them to become more mindful of their thoughts and feelings in social situations, and to take action towards valued goals, even in the presence of anxiety.
Both CBT and ACT have been found to be effective in treating SAD in multiple randomized controlled trials. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders in 2012 found that both CBT and ACT were effective in reducing symptoms of SAD, with CBT being slightly more effective than ACT. Another study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 2010 found that both CBT and ACT were effective in treating SAD, with no significant differences between the two treatments.
Hofmann, S. G., Asmundson, G. J., & Beck, A. T. (2012). The efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy in the treatment of social anxiety disorder: a meta-analysis. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 26(1), 1-13.
Zettle, R. D., & Hayes, S. C. (2010). A randomized controlled trial of acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(1), 9-18.
Rodebaugh, T. L., Holaway, R. M., & Heimberg, R. G. (2004). The treatment of social anxiety disorder. Clinical Psychology Review, 24(8), 883-908.