The Social Anxiety Institute began a cognitive-behavioral group therapy approach to social anxiety disorder in September 1994. The first groups were held in the early evening for two and a half hours. Half of the time was spent on cognitive issues and understanding, and the other half was spent in carrying out -- actually doing -- what we we learning in the cognitive session.
So, in the behavioral session, for example, we worked on developing more self-esteem by realizing we were just as good as anyone else, and we employed the use of role plays to physically act out situations in which we would stand up for ourselves -- and then learn to feel good about it afterwards.
In 1999, as Dr. Richards realized we needed more time for a faster resolution to overcoming social anxiety, we shifted to the all-day Saturday group. We also employed the audio series, which by then had become available, and expected participants to have gone over the weekly cognitive material.
In the morning, we discussed the cognitive therapy, drew out commonsense real-world applications, and Dr. Richards answered all questions relating to taking the solutions and applying them to the personal life of the group participant.
Another essential element of the CBT program was that group participants were expected to get together during the weekday evenings (instead of isolating themselves) and go over the group therapy together. In later weeks of the group, the group members went out and did things together at night: bowling, hiking, laugh club participation, art walks, etc.
The local Phoenix CBT group is a friendly, active, structured group that can change your life. Our only goal is learning to get over social anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral group therapy has been shown to be most effective at reaching this goal and providing long-term, permanent change. We use a gradual (step by step) approach to (a) limit anxiety, and (b) allow progress to become permanent. This is best achieved in a structured group setting. We handle all therapy with as much calmness and peace as possible.
The 12 week Local Phoenix CBT program is an active, structured treatment program for people with social anxiety disorder. The program is run by Dr. Thomas A. Richards, a psychologist, who has been running social anxiety therapy groups since 1995. Dr. Richards is assisted by Matthew Whitley, who earned his master's degree in 2010 and serves as behavioral therapist for the social anxiety groups.
A new group consists of no more than eight (8) members who are motivated and ready to overcome social anxiety. New group members will be using mindful cognitive methods and strategies using the audio/video therapy series, “Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step.” By using the series, you receive daily reinforcement of what we are doing in the group.
The all-day Saturday session includes review, discussion, and reinforcement of the cognitive therapy. We have had many past group members move to Phoenix from out of state for therapy, and currently over half of the group is composed of people who have moved here from other geographical locations in North America.
Behavioral activities are also included during the sessions in which you gently move up your anxiety hierarchy at your own pace and completely under your own direction. Group members do behavioral experiments when they feel ready. You are never forced or made to do anything. Working at your own pace when you are ready to volunteer to do behavioral activities is the only way to effectively overcome social anxiety.
THIS IS AN ACTIVE, STRUCTURED COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL GROUP
We run the active, structured cognitive-behavioral therapy group for people who are willing and motivated to overcome social anxiety. This means we work with people who will do what’s necessary to overcome social anxiety.
We can only work with self-motivated people. We cannot accept people unless they themselves want to participate. This means a willing and active participant in the group.
The therapy group is held all day on Saturday, and at the end of the session the group plans activities for the next week in the evenings (not every evening). Meeting together with the other group members and learning to be comfortable with them in all types of situations is part of the program and is a necessary step in overcoming social anxiety. You can't stay simply home and come to the Saturday sessions and hope to get better. We have found an active approach works much better and faster.
The group will discuss evening activities and/or weekend activities, but it will not be every night, and we need to leave Friday night open to relax and get a good night's sleep before the Saturday session begins. Meeting with other group members outside of the Saturday sessions helps you make friends, have fun, and begin to use the strategies. Working regularly with a therapy “buddy” and eventually participating in the behavioral experiments is all an essential part of the program.
We ask you to sign a contract stating you understand and will comply with the therapy as we only want to work with motivated people who are going to get better. Again, you need to work on this program everyday, 7 day a week, as you know if you've started the series. Everything is geared toward helping you use the solutions in the program to get better and feel less anxious. Visiting with Dr. Richards when necessary is very helpful, and costs can be adjusted if necessary.
Please apply for the group if you meet the following qualifications:
The new application must be filled out as completely as possible. Please do not submit simple or short answers.
It is necessary to be through session three (3) in the audio/video series at the time of application, and you need to guarantee that you will work through session six (6) before the group actually starts.
Three (3) individual sessions with Dr. Richards are needed before before the group starts. The first is a diagnostic session. In the second appointment we talk about everything the group does, both cognitively and behaviorally, so you will have no surprises. In the final pre-group appointment, you’ll discuss the therapy sessions themselves with Dr. Richards. Please schedule appropriately: No more than one appointment per week, and do not plan last week or last minute appointments. You can make appointments through the office at 602.230.7316
People moving here from out of town must check in with the office BEFORE moving. Please do NOT move here until you are formally accepted into the group. You MUST tell us where (location) you’re planning on living so we can give you general advice and make sure you are living a reasonable driving distance from SAI. We want to prevent problems that have existed in the past and hinder people from overcoming social anxiety.
Living a reasonable distance from SAI is important for participating in weeknight therapy activities.
Since we move slowly, one step at a time, and gently guide you through each step, and since you will have daily help and support, making progress is not difficult.
We are located directly off the northern loop of the freeway (101) and access to the Institute is easy. You can map out exactly where we are: Living on the other end of the city – which could be 100 miles away -- will prohibit you from taking part in the program, so if you are moving in, this is a word to the wise.
Our groups consist only of people with social anxiety. The groups are friendly and highly therapeutic. Working together with other people like you adds a tremendous amount of proactivity to the program. You will always have the encouragement and support of Dr. Richards and staff. Plus, you will always be surrounded by your group members who will help you when needed just as you will help them. Your decision to actively and persistently work on overcoming social anxiety will change your life.
The first group meeting covers sessions #1-4 in the online therapy series, "Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step". It is imperative people be conversant with the therapy and have a good understanding of it. Having this cognitive understanding and knowledge will allow you to make more efficient and faster progress in the group.
Individual Appointment Fees
|Diagnostic Appointment (1st appointment)||$225.00|
|Individual Appointments (all other appointments)||$175.00|
We Can No Longer File Insurance
At present, all groups are full and we are not accepting new applications for the program. A new notification will be posted here in 2020 about group participation.