Attending to Multicultural Factors in Behavioral Therapies for Social Anxiety

Friday, April 6: 1:00 PM  - 3:00 PM 
Exhibit Level 
Room: Lincoln 2 



The diversity among individuals living in the United States has rapidly increased over the past few decades with people of color making up 36.2% of the United States population in 2011 (US Census, 2011). In addition, 3.4% of adults living in the United States identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender in 2012 (Gallup Study, 2011) and 32.8% of Americans experience physical functioning impairments or disabilities in 2011 (National Health Survey, 2011). While these statistics represent just a few of several marginalized and underserved populations in the United States, this rapid increase highlights the importance of focusing on the mental health needs of diverse populations including the treatment of anxiety disorders within marginalized populations. Because clinicians with higher levels of cultural competence experience more favorable outcomes with their clients (Sue, 2001), utilizing multicultural competency to effectively tailor behavior therapies may better serve the mental health needs of marginalized populations (Hofmann, 2006; Pantalone et al., 2009; Safren, 2001). These papers highlight the need for including cultural considerations in behavior therapy, provide a framework for incorporating multicultural principles, and provide suggestions to consider when working with marginalized populations. The current workshop focuses on strategies to effectively attend to contextual factors within the context of behavioral therapies for social anxiety to better serve individuals from marginalized backgrounds.

This workshop will present some background and basic skills of applying multicultural principles in therapy to attend to contextual factors. Specifically, the workshop will focus on attending to the alliance across cultural differences and similarities; how to talk with clients about experiences of discrimination and marginalization and how these experiences may be interacting with the client's social anxiety; and common ways that contextual factors intersect with case conceptualization and treatment elements for behavior therapy for social anxiety. This workshop will draw heavily from our experience treating individuals from diverse marginalized backgrounds with social anxiety disorders and the integration of multicultural principles and culturally responsive adaptations of behavior therapies for social anxiety.

Learning Objectives

1. learn strategies for attending to the alliance across cultural differences and similarities
2. understand how experiences of discrimination and marginalization intersect with social anxiety
3. learn ways that specific therapy techniques can be adapted to better attend to client’s contextual factors 


Jessica Graham-LoPresti, PhD, Salem State University
Sarah Hayes-Skelton, PhD, University of Massachusetts Boston

Audience Level



Multicultural Issues


Diversity - Yes


120 minutes


Social Anxiety Disorder

Treatment Approach