Social phobia is characterized by a marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations in which the person may be scrutinized by others and fears coming across in a way that would be embarrassing or humiliating. It is a chronic disorder that usually begins in early adolescence and results in considerable impairment that increases over an individual's lifespan. A lifetime prevalence ranging from 3-13% has been reported by epidemiological and community studies. A review of 30 studies into psychological interventions for social phobia has found that cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) involving cognitive restructuring and exposure to feared or avoided social situations or behavioural experiments is an "efficacious and specific treatment for social phobia". Exposure therapy was also found to be effective. There were mixed findings regarding the relative efficacy of CBT and in vivo exposure with some studies reporting that the interventions were equivalent while others found that CBT produced better outcomes. There was little evidence to support the use of social-skills training.
Ponniah, K. and Hollon, S. D. - Empirically supported psychological interventions for social phobia in adults: a qualitative review of randomized controlled trials Psychological Medicine January 2008, 38(1), 3-14