Clinical Case Study: Clinical Use of the Looming Vulnerability Construct for Performance Anxiety in a Dance Recital

Riskind, John H.; Long, Daniel; Duckworth, Rebecca; Gessner, Ted
December 2004
Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy;Winter2004, Vol. 18 Issue 4, p361
Academic Journal
Several recent social phobia models (e.g., Clark & Wells, 1995; Rapee & Heimberg, !997) share the assumption that sensitivity to the social evaluative context is produced by the socially anxious person's generation of distorted mental images. These distorted images occur in the form of an external "observer" perspective in terms of how the person imagines being perceived by others. The starting point for the model of looming vulnerability (Riskind, 1997; Riskind, Williams, Gessner, Chrosniak, & Cortina, 2000) is that anxiety is generated not just by static images of such a dreadful moment caught in stop motion (e.g., of being negatively viewed by others), but by the perception that the threat is rapidly advancing and unfolding such that it is increasing in danger. The present case study illustrates the potential utility of this "looming vulnerability" conceptualization for treating a case of severe social performance anxiety in a young woman facing an upcoming dance recital.


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