The role of expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal in cognitive behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder: A study of self-report, subjective, and electrocortical measures

Yogev Kivity, Lior Cohen, Michal Weiss, Jonathan Elizur, Jonathan D. Huppert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Contemporary models of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for social anxiety disorder (SAD) emphasize emotion dysregulation as a core impairment whose reduction may play a causal role in psychotherapy. The current study examined changes in use of emotion regulation strategies as possible mechanisms of change in CBT for SAD. Specifically, we examined changes in expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal during CBT and whether these changes predict treatment outcome. Methods: Patients (n = 34; 13 females; Mean age = 28.36 (6.97)) were allocated to 16-20 sessions of CBT. An electrocortical measure of emotion regulation and a clinician-rated measure of SAD were administered monthly. Self-report measures of emotion regulation and social anxiety were administered weekly. Multilevel models were used to examine changes in emotion regulation during treatment and cross-lagged associations between emotion regulation and anxiety. Results: CBT led to decreased suppression frequency, increased reappraisal self-efficacy, and decreased unpleasantness for SAD-related pictures (ps < .05). At post-treatment, patients were equivalent to healthy controls in terms of suppression frequency and subjective reactivity to SAD-related stimuli. Gains were maintained at 3-months follow-up. Decreases in suppression frequency and electrocortical reactivity to SAD-related pictures predicted lower subsequent anxiety but not the other way around (ps < .05). Lower anxiety predicted greater subsequent increases in reappraisal self-efficacy. Limitations: The lack of a control group precludes conclusions regarding mechanisms specificity. Conclusions: Decreased frequency of suppression is a potential mechanism of change in CBT for SAD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-342
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume279
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 15 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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