Comparisons of the Major Therapies for Social Anxiety Disorder

Choose the type of therapy most suited to you.
What type of therapy is most suited to you?. Daly and Newton / Getty Images

Are you considering receiving therapy for social anxiety disorder? If so, you may wish to consult the table below, to help you make a decision about the therapy that may be most suited to your situation.

Remember, regardless of the type of therapy you choose (or are assigned), it is important that your therapist has an understanding of the unique issues faced by those with social anxiety disorder.

Types of Social Anxiety Therapies

CBT (Individual & Group)




When Developed


1986 (developed by psychology professor Steven Hayes)

1980’s (developed by Gerald Klerman and Myrna Weissman)

Founded by Sigmund Freud in the last century.

Research Support

Empirically validated

Early support for efficacy

Early support for efficacy.

Some support for efficacy.

Basic Premise

Social anxiety arises because of faulty thinking patterns.

There is no “healthy normal.” In fact, certain "normal" mind processes can be potentially problematic.

Learning to manage interpersonal issues, role transitions, and interpersonal skills deficits.

Social anxiety results from the expectation of shame elicited by critical parents, the conflict between the need to achieve and fear of success, the conflict between independence and fear of rejection, and fear of being unable to make a perfect impression.


To identify irrational beliefs and thought patterns and replace them with more realistic viewpoints.

To enjoy life, accept pain and suffering, detach, and take action aligned with values. Symptom reduction is expected as a byproduct.

Identify interpersonal areas in need of attention. Address problems in relationships.

To uncover underlying conflicts and work through these issues.

Relationship With Therapist

Student-teacher. Homework is assigned.

The therapist acts as a guide, teaching through metaphors, experiential exercises, and mindfulness training.

Techniques are adopted from various other therapies, including role-playing and supportive listening.

Helps to identify conflicts and resolve issues.

Keys for Success

Your expectation for success, ability to complete homework assignments, and confront your thoughts.

An ability to detach from anxious thoughts and become mindful.

A therapist who specializes in social anxiety disorder. Especially helpful for those experiencing interpersonal issues.

Best suited to those with underlying core issues related to their social anxiety.

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Article Sources
  • Leichsenring, F., Salzer, S., Beutel, M. E., Herpertz, S., Hiller, W., Hoyer, J., Huesing, J., et al. (2013). Psychodynamic therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy in social anxiety disorder: a multicenter randomized controlled trial. The American journal of psychiatry, 170(7), 759-67. Retrieved from