The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Work-Related Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Unemployed Persons with Social Anxiety

Friday, January 18, 2013: 3:30 PM
Marina 3 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Joseph Himle, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Ed Steinberger, MS, Mental Health Specialist, JVS Detroit, Southfield, MI
Wayne Laviolette, MA, Psychologist, JVS Detroit, Southfield, MI
Zipora Golenberg, MA, Employment Specialist, JVS Detroit, Southfield, MI
Sarah Vlnka, MSW, Research Coordinator, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Debra Levine, MA, Doctoral Candidate, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Lisa O'Donnell, MSW, Doctoral pre-candidate, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Deborah Bybee, PhD, Professor, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Prior research on social anxiety disorder (SocAD) has identified several work-related impairments (Stein et al., 2000; Wittchen et al., 2000; Stein & Kean, 2000; Heimberg et al.,1990; Scheier et al., 1992). Our prior longitudinal study of welfare-dependent mothers has shown that SocAD is the strongest psychiatric predictor of sustained reliance on welfare for support over time (Author, 2009). There is a need to develop a sustainable intervention to address employment problems among persons with SocAD.

This project involved a randomized trial comparing our newly-developed work-related cognitive behavioral therapy for social anxiety (WCBT; n=20) experimental group versus a vocational services-as-usual control condition (n=20). Participants were primarily homeless African Americans with social anxiety disorder who were seeking vocational assistance at a comprehensive vocational service center. WCBT is an eight session, work-focused, group CBT intervention for SocAD delivered by vocational service professionals to enhance intervention sustainability.

Preliminary results indicate that WCBT participants experienced significantly lower levels of social anxiety-related avoidance (Liebowitz - M=32.25 vs 40.84; p=.03) post-treatment compared to controls. WCBT participants also experienced non-significant, yet lower post-treatment scores on ratings of overall social anxiety, general anxiety and depression at the end of treatment. 35.0% of the WCBT versus 15.8% of control participants were working 20 or more hours per week at post-treatment.

WCBT is a promising method to improve social anxiety and employment among persons with SocAD. This ongoing project involves a unique sample of underserved participants with SocAD and an innovative community-based, participatory research effort.