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An online self-administered social skills training for young adults: Results from a pilot study

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Computers & Education Volume 61, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Up to 95% of teens and young adults in western societies are online, and research shows striking evidence that users suffering from social fears use the Internet more frequently. Social phobia (SP) is one of the most common anxiety disorders, characterized by early onset and more frequent histories of childhood and adolescent shyness. SP is often untreated because adolescent sufferers hesitate to talk to teachers or attend any face-to-face treatment. Furthermore, teachers and caregivers, responsible for educating these young adults, often lack the clinical-psychological knowledge to help. Therefore, we developed an online training for providing educative knowledge about social skills, social fears and body relaxation methods (including evidence-based cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) elements combined with elements from social skills trainings (SST)). Until now, no such online tool was readily available for teachers and caregivers in Europe's German-speaking areas. In addition, the transformation of a well-evaluated (offline) SST with CBT elements into an attractive online form rendered a definite challenge. To assist teachers and caregivers, we developed an online-based self-administered SST with CBT elements especially for adolescents and young adults. The novelty of the project was its development in close cooperation with target groups to ensure usability and acceptance. This multi-stage program for the prevention of social fears and social phobia includes the promotion of social skills moreover cognitive restructuring. Fourteen text- and comic-based sessions (one session per week, each session takes 30–40 min) provide knowledge about social fears and social skills. The effectiveness was evaluated using pre- and post-tests with 61 training participants and 47 control group students. Preliminary results showed promising and significant effects in the intervention group: a decrease of social fears as well as an increase of social skills. These findings suggest that our self-administered online training is effective preventing social fears, and may be considered as an educative tool for teachers and caregivers (providing evidence-based information about social fears, social skills and body relaxation methods).


Lehenbauer, M., Kothgassner, O.D., Kryspin-Exner, I. & Stetina, B.U. (2013). An online self-administered social skills training for young adults: Results from a pilot study. Computers & Education, 61(1), 217-224. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved March 23, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 30, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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