Mindfulness Training Boosts CBT in Social Phobia

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- Mindfulness training was shown to enhance cognitive-behavioral task-concentration techniques used to treat social phobia, Susan M. Bogels, Ph.D., reported at the annual meeting of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy.

Dr. Bogels' findings are based on the preliminary results of a Dutch study involving 10 patients diagnosed with social phobia, as measured by the Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory.

Patients were randomized to receive either combination therapy--mindfulness training plus task-concentration techniques--or task-concentration therapy alone.

Those who received combination therapy showed more significant improvements based on self-report measures in levels of anxiety caused by negative thoughts and worry, compared with patients in the task-concentration control group, said Dr. Bogels of the University of Maastricht (the Netherlands).

All of the patients were evaluated before and after the trial using a detailed structured interview (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV) conducted by trained researchers, as well as various measurements of symptom severity and symptom impact on quality of life, and all patients received nine sessions of the therapy.

As part of their therapy, patients in the experimental group received mindfulness training from therapists experienced in using the technique, which aims to change unhelpful and negative patterns of thinking that have become habit.

Studies have shown that such thinking contributes to depressed mood, stress, and anxiety.

"The [mindfulness training] approach focuses on the here and now, starting with body and breathing awareness--incorporating the advantages of applied relaxation--but also includes perceived negative aspects of self," Dr. Bogels said.

The mindfulness exercises were used as the "starting point" for the implementation of task-concentration techniques, she explained. …