A study published last month compared the effects of—and brain changes caused by—cognitive behavioral group therapy (CBGT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for adults with social anxiety.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 7.1% of US adults have social anxiety disorder. A person with social anxiety has a phobia of social or performance situations, or any circumstance where they fear they’ll be scrutinized by others. Cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness both can help people reframe some of the negative self-beliefs that make social functions so challenging for them.
In the study, 31 participants received CBGT for 12 weeks, 32 received MSBR for 12 weeks, and another 31 participants were put on a waitlist. The researchers measured changes in the brain when accepting and reappraising negative beliefs, as well as self-reported changes in negative emotion.
Both cognitive behavioral group therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction were associated with significant decreases in negative emotions. These forms of treatment tap into both overlapping and distinct parts of the brain; however, both CBGT and MBSR enhance parts of the brain involved in emotional regulation and attention-regulation.
A year post-treatment, participants who had received both forms of treatment had reduced social anxiety; those who had received CBGT still showed changes in the brain when accepting or reappraising negative beliefs. The study authors concluded that while the two treatments work through different mechanisms in the brain, both are effective ways to help people reconsider negative beliefs and practice acceptance of their emotions.
If you are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for mental health disorders and addiction in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build a recovery program that works for you. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.