Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Original Article

An Interpersonal Approach to the Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia): A Component Analysis


Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada


Department of Education and Pedagogy, University of Quebec at Montreal, Montreal, Canada

Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2022; 32: 33-44
DOI: 10.5152/pcp.2022.21246
Read: 119 Downloads: 91 Published: 31 March 2022

Background: Most treatments of social anxiety disorder aim at anxiety reduction. To what extent this leads to improved social functioning remains unclear. An effective alternative aiming primarily at social functioning- the Interpersonal Approach- is available. The present study sought to identify its active ingredients.

Methods: This is a randomized controlled study; 102 social anxiety disorder individuals were randomly assigned to 3 versions of the Interpersonal Approach. A total of 76 patients completed treatment and 67, a 1-year follow-up. The patients met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition criteria for social anxiety disorder. The study was carried out in an experimental clinic for the treatment of social anxiety disorder at the Research Center of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital in Montreal, Canada.

Results: No clinically meaningful change occurred during the waiting list. A significant and equivalent improvement was obtained in all treatment conditions in social functioning, anxiousness, and general psychopathology, maintaining over a 12-month follow-up. Remission rates improved progressively with 54% remission at 1-year follow-up. All variants of the Interpersonal Approach resulted in similar improvements.

Conclusion: The Interpersonal Approach in all its versions has proved to be effective in reducing anxiety complaints and improving social functioning. The combined improvement in these 2 outcomes accounts for the significant remission rates seen at 1-year follow-up. Two active features were common to all: (1) targeting and ultimately dissolving long-standing habits of self-protection across various spheres of life and (2) fostering participatory interpersonal patterns of behavior, enacted by patients systematically and repeatedly between sessions.

Cite this article as: Stravynski A, Lachance L. An Interpersonal Approach to the treatment of social anxiety disorder (social phobia): A component analysis. Psychiatr Clin Psychopharmacol. 2022;32(1):33-44.

EISSN 2475-0581