Psychodynamic psychotherapy for social phobia: a treatment manual based on supportive-expressive therapy

Bull Menninger Clin. 2007 Winter;71(1):56-83. doi: 10.1521/bumc.2007.71.1.56.


Social phobia is a very frequent mental disorder characterized by an early onset, a chronic unremitting course, severe psychosocial impairments and high socioeconomic costs. To date, no manual for the psychodynamic treatment of social phobia exists. After a brief description of the disorder, a manual for a short-term psychodynamic treatment of social phobia is presented. The treatment is based on Luborsky s supportive-expressive (SE) therapy, which is complemented by treatment elements specific to social phobia. The treatment includes the characteristic elements of SE therapy, that is, setting goals, focus on the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme (CCRT) associated with the patient s symptoms, interpretive interventions to enhance insight into the CCRT, and supportive interventions, in particular fostering a helping alliance. In order to tailor the treatment more specifically to social phobia, treatment elements have been added, for example informing the patient about the disorder and the treatment, a specific focus on shame and on unrealistic demands, and encouraging the patient to confront anxiety-producing situations. More directive interventions are included as well, such as specific prescriptions to stop persisting self-devaluations. The treatment manual is presently being used in a large-scale randomized controlled multicenter study comparing short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of social phobia.

MeSH terms

  • Ego
  • Humans
  • Manuals as Topic*
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Social Support*
  • Wit and Humor as Topic