I think they think...
Overcoming social phobia

(1998). [Video]. Sydney: Monkey See Productions

Available by mail order from Monkey See Productions

I think they think... Overcoming social phobia provides an interesting insight into social phobia and a useful overview of strategies which can be employed in the treatment of the disorder.

Three personal accounts of social phobia are combined with advice and information from two experts with extensive research and clinical experience in the field of anxiety: Dr. Lisa Lampe and Professor Ron Rapee. Ron is the author of the self-treatment book Overcoming Shyness and Social Phobia, which serves as the basis for the video. Like the book, the focus of the video is on cognitive behavioural treatment strategies, which are explained and exemplified in a format which is logical and easy to comprehend.

The video begins by presenting a brief look at the experiences of people with social phobia, and an explanation of the underlying fear. Viewers are then introduced to the concept of self monitoring, in order to gain a more objective understanding of their problems. Subsequent sections cover cognitive restructuring and graded exposure, with the experts providing an explanation of the techniques and their rationale, and the people with the social phobia demonstrating how they implemented these strategies in the management of their own social anxiety. The practical demonstrations of cognitive restructuring are particularly helpful in terms of illustrating to viewers how thoughts, feelings and behaviours are recorded on forms such as those included in the self help treatment manual, and also provide useful examples of the types of evidence which can be used to challenge unrealistic or extreme thoughts. Furthermore, the experiences of one person as he undergoes an exposure task highlights to the viewer the importance of courage, perseverance and acknowledgment of one's accomplishments in achieving success in overcoming social phobia.

The video goes on to outline the benefits of other treatment components, such as group therapy, and meditation. Medication as a treatment options is briefly discussed, although viewers are informed of the limitations associated with this type of therapy. Finally, the video deals with setbacks, presenting them as a normal part of the recovery process, and hence urging the viewer not to lose hope when they are encountered.

Overall, the video covers the essential components of CBT, and is well structured, practical and informative. Techniques and concepts are explained in a clear, straightforward manner, and consolidated by practical examples, thus making them intelligible to the general population. The individuals who tell of their personal experiences are articulate and likeable, which may serve to reassure others with social phobia that having the disorder is not in itself indicative of any personal shortcoming. Moreover, it delivers the positive message that effective treatment for social phobia is available to individuals who are sufficiently motivated to overcome their problems.

I think they think... Overcoming social phobia would probably be used most effectively as an adjunct to therapy, rather than as a stand alone treatment package. Clinicians would find it a useful means by which to illustrate to their clients the concepts and techniques involved in CBT. It would also serve as a helpful introductory resource for individuals who are contemplating therapy for social phobia, but who are unsure of what to expect. Either way, the video is a valuable educational tool for people with social phobia, and can be highly recommended as a worthwhile addition to both clinical and public libraries.

Judith Wilson
School of Behavioural Sciences
Macquarie University

This review appeared in the journal Behaviour Change, Vol 15, No. 3, 1998, pp 198-199 and is reproduced here by kind permission of Australian Academic Press