What if the brain could be taught to participate in its own healing? In a recent study from the Clinically Applied Affective Neuroscience project of Stanford’s Department of Psychology, researchers found that among 75 participants with social anxiety disorder (SAD), those who underwent cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) training demonstrated greater ability to reduce symptoms associated with SAD than those who did not undergo the training.
As a Stanford Report article notes, people with SAD may experience exaggerated negative reactions to social situations, which can interfere with their ability to function at work or school or in other life situations.
Published in JAMA Psychiatry, the study measured the effect of CBT – a popular non-drug treatment for SAD – after participants underwent 16 psychotherapy treatments over four months.
From the Stanford Report:
For this study, patients were scanned using fMRI to investigate brain responses when reacting to and reframing negative-self-beliefs. During the scan, patients read autobiographical social situations with situation-specific beliefs embedded in the story that were used to probe reactivity and reappraisal.
After each negative self-belief came up, patients rated how they felt.
[First author Philippe Goldin, PhD] said the study further reveals that counseling is effective in changing the behavior of the brain, helping people respond to and reframe negative emotions more quickly.
Previously: Using humor to evaluate negative experiences can improve emotional health, Keep calm or blow a fuse? Studying emotion regulation, Prolonged fatigue and mood disorders among teens and Does more authority translate into a reduction in stress and anxiety?
Photo by Ed Yourdon