Anticipatory processing, maladaptive attentional focus, and postevent processing are key cognitive constructs implicated in the maintenance of social anxiety disorder (SAD). The current study examined how treatment for SAD concurrently affects these three cognitive maintaining processes and how these processes are associated with each other as well as with symptom change from pre- to posttreatment. The sample consisted of 116 participants with SAD receiving group cognitive behavioral therapy. All three cognitive maintaining processes were measured relative to a speech task and again relative to a conversation task. Across both tasks, the three cognitive process variables demonstrated decreases from pre- to posttreatment. Within the same task, a slower rate of decrease in a specific cognitive process variable from pre- to posttreatment was predicted from higher pretreatment levels of either one or both of the other cognitive process variables. Additionally, higher levels of pretreatment conversation-related anticipatory processing and maladaptive attentional focus predicted a slower rate of decrease in social anxiety symptoms from pre- to posttreatment. Results are consistent with cognitive models of SAD and have important implications for enhancing existing treatments.
- anticipatory processing
- maladaptive attentional focus
- postevent processing
- social anxiety disorder
- cognitive-behavioral therapy