Social anxiety interventions: reappraisal versus acceptance and values
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Social anxiety is a prevalent psychological difficulty, and even individuals who do not meet criteria for the diagnosis can demonstrate functional impairment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been the most established intervention for the treatment of social anxiety and although it is effective for a number of people, there is still a substantial proportion who fail to benefit or remain in treatment (Barlow, Allen, Chaote, 2016; Foa & Kozak, 1997). As such, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) could present an alternative approach. Studies comparing reappraisal and acceptance in helping regulate negative emotions have generally found these to be equivalent or have found reappraisal to be more effective than acceptance (Hofmann, Heering, Sawyer, and Asnaani, 2009; Wolgast, Lundh & Viborg, 2011). However, these comparisons have not included values as the key driver of acceptance, as is consistent with ACT. Participants were randomly assigned to either a brief reappraisal intervention, an acceptance and values intervention, or a control group and they then completed a social stress task. The purpose of the study was to test the effectiveness of these interventions, expecting acceptance and values to have the most successful impact on participant’s emotional regulation. Findings did not demonstrate the anticipated results. However, future studies could alter the study protocol to allow for a better understanding of the emotion regulation techniques by participants and include a larger, more diverse sample.