Cognitive-behavioral treatment of adolescent with social anxiety
Adolescence is characterized by many developmental challenges and is a period of vulnerability to anxiety yet, paradoxically, is also period of increased risk-taking behavior and striving for autonomy. One of the most common problems that adolescents face is social anxiety. Social anxiety in many cases leads to impaired mental health in adolescence and adulthood, when left untreated. One of the most effective and evidence-based first-choice approaches in treating social anxiety of adolescents is Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT).
The aim of this case study is to illustrate CBT treatment of social anxiety with adolescent client, to prove CBT’s efficacy but also to stress out the importance of resilience building in adolescents as the way in improving their mental health.
The client (17 years old girl) is complaining to anxiety symptoms and claims that “she does not want to live in this suffering but she wants to make something out of her life” during the initial session. Basic complaints are social isolation that she wants to change and to spend more quality time with her peers, intense anxiety symptoms and irregular school attendance.
The treatment goals were set in collaboration with the client. In achieving these goals, we used behavioral techniques (role-plays, in-vivo exposure), cognitive techniques (psychoeducation, cognitive restructuration, behavioral experiment), techniques of mindfulness and Compassion Focused Therapy techniques. The treatment lasted 16 sessions. The client was highly motivated and worked hard in reaching the treatment goals. During the treatment, therapist-client relationship was cooperative and filled with compassion, trust, unconditional acceptance, but also with the presence of humor.
The treatment was successful, as confirmed through the results of the Social Anxiety Questionnaire and Beck’s Anxiety Inventory, through the achievement of the goals set and the client’s and her family’s self-reports. Further prognoses are positive but also depending on social support factors that client will have in future.
In conclusion, we can state that CBT proved efficacy as described in this case study and confirmed its status of evidence-based first-choice approach in treating social anxiety of adolescents. Building resilience in adolescents has been confirmed as an effective way to improve their mental health.