Childhood social anxiety disorder, behavioral treatment, virtual environment, virtual reality augmented treatment
Objective: Two significant challenges for the dissemination of social skills training programs are (a) the need to provide sufficient practice opportunities to assure skill consolidation and (b) the need to assure skill generalization (i.e., use of the skills outside the clinic setting). In the case of social anxiety disorder, virtual environments may provide one strategy to address these issues. This investigation describes the development of an interactive skills-oriented virtual school environment and evaluated its utility for the treatment of social anxiety disorder in preadolescent children (Study 1). This environment included both in-clinic and at-home solutions. In addition, a pilot replication/extension study further examined preliminary treatment efficacy between children who received a standard multi-component treatment and children who received the modified treatment with social skills practice in a virtual environment (Study 2). Method: Eleven children with a primary diagnosis of social anxiety disorder between 7 to 12 years old participated in the initial feasibility trial (Study 1). Five additional children participated in the replication/extension study (Study 2). To investigate preliminary treatment efficacy, clinical outcome measures for the Study 2 sample were compared to a comparison sample who received the standard treatment. Results: Overall, the virtual environment program was viewed as acceptable, feasible, and credible treatment components to children, parents, and clinicians alike but modifications would likely improve the current version. Additionally, although preliminary, children who received the modified treatment with virtual environment practice demonstrated significant improvement at post-treatment on clinician ratings but not parent or self-reported measures. Conclusion: Virtual environments are feasible, acceptable, and credible treatment components for clinical use. Future investigations will determine if the addition of this dose-controlled and iv intensive social skills practice results in treatment outcome equivalent to traditional cognitivebehavioral programs.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Clinical Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Sarver, Nina, "Evaluating The Utility Of A Virtual Environment For Childhood Social Anxiety Disorder" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2984.