Behaviour Change

Standard Papers

Online CBT II: A Phase I Trial of a Standalone, Online CBT Treatment Program for Social Anxiety in Stuttering

Fjóla Dögg Helgadóttira1 c1, Ross G. Menziesa2, Mark Onslowa3, Ann Packmana4 and Sue O'Briana5

a1 Discipline of Behavioural and Social Sciences in Health, The University of Sydney. fjola@fjolad.com

a2 Discipline of Behavioural and Social Sciences in Health, The University of Sydney.

a3 Australian Stuttering Research Centre, The University of Sydney.

a4 Australian Stuttering Research Centre, The University of Sydney.

a5 Australian Stuttering Research Centre, The University of Sydney.

Abstract

This paper introduces a novel approach to internet treatment for social anxiety. The goal of this treatment was to address key limitations of current standalone treatments (Helgadottir, Menzies, Onslow, Packman, & O'Brian, 2009). The ‘computer psychologist’ designed for this study used fully automated, prewritten individualised sample answers in order to simulate a human–human interaction through a human–computer interface. Two males who sought treatment for stuttering and met the diagnosis for social phobia according to the DSM-IV and ICD-10 criteria were selected for this study. After receiving the treatment, both users no longer met criteria for social phobia. Also, significant improvements were observed on other psychometric tests, including measures of unhelpful cognitions, behavioural avoidance, quality of life, and low mood. The quality of the interaction appeared to be similar to face-to-face therapy, indicating that the ‘computer psychologist’ established an effective therapeutic relationship, and the automated techniques used were sufficiently engaging to prompt users to log on regularly and complete the treatment program.

Key Words:

  • online;
  • internet;
  • cognitive behaviour therapy;
  • CBT;
  • intervention;
  • treatment;
  • social anxiety;
  • stutter

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Fjola Dogg Helgadottir, Discipline of Behavioural and Social Sciences in Health, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.