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e-couch

e-couch can help you to manage the symptoms of common mental health issues. The e-couch for Social Anxiety program modules are currently available:

  • Information about social anxiety

  • How to get help and which treatments work

  • Evidence-based strategies

  • Practical advice

  • Interactive workbooks

How is e-couch structured?

e-couch provides interactive self-help and evidence-based information.
The e-couch for Social Anxiety program is currently available. This includes a comprehensive information module, as well as toolkit modules with interactive exercises and workbooks which teach specific evidence-based approaches for social anxiety:

Information module

  • What social anxiety feels like and when it can become a problem.
  • How thoughts and behaviours can contribute to social anxiety.
  • How social anxiety is diagnosed and risk factors.
  • Which treatments are available and how to seek help.

Exposure practice toolkit

  • Manage and lower your anxiety in the situations you fear.
  • Stop avoiding situations and experiences which may be necessary for your personal development.
  • Increase your skills in social or performance situations.
  • Become more confident generally.

Modifying your thinking toolkit

  • Shift the way you think about social or performance situations.
  • Re-estimate the likelihood of the things you dread actually happening.
  • De-catastrophise the consequences of the things you fear actually happening.

Social skills training toolkit

  • Increase your confidence by developing your social skills.
  • Improve eye contact, converse with others and be more assertive.
  • Go out to different social occasions more often.

Attention practice toolkit

  • Change your focus in social or performance situations to feel less self-conscious.

Relaxation toolkit

  • Breathing and relaxation exercises to help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation audio download.

Evidence for effectiveness

The e-couch program modules have been evaluated by research groups around the world.

The e-couch for Social Anxiety program has been evaluated in a randomised controlled trial with a large sample of community users which showed a small but statistically significant improvement in social anxiety symptoms. A study with a smaller sample also found that the program resulted in a significant reduction of symptoms in participants with social anxiety.

Powell J, Williams V, Atherton H, et al. Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of a Self-Guided Internet Intervention for Social Anxiety Symptoms in a General Population Sample: Randomized Controlled Trial . J Med Internet Res 2020;22(1):e16804

Bowler JO, Mackintosh B, Dunn BD, et al. A comparison of cognitive bias modification for interpretation and computerized cognitive behavior therapy: effects on anxiety, depression, attentional control, and interpretive bias. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2012;80(6):1021-33.

Frequently Asked Questions

e-couch is an online, self-directed training program which provides interactive self-help and evidence-based information to help users to understand and manage symptoms associated with common mental issues.

Currently, the e-couch for Social Anxiety program is available, with programs soon to be added for General Anxiety & Worry, Depression, Bereavement & Loss, and Divorce & Separation. This e-couch program is an updated version of one part of the 'old' e-couch program (ecouch.anu.edu.au ). In the future all parts of the original program will be available as new programs.

The e-couch for Social Anxiety program provides information about social anxiety - the intense anxiety that some people experience in social or performance situations. It also teaches a range of evidence-based approaches which might help you to manage your symptoms and improve your life.

The program is like a brief, interactive self-help book, which you can log back in to at any time to learn more skills or to add to your workbooks.

Currently, the e-couch for Social Anxiety program is available, with programs soon to be added for General Anxiety & Worry, Depression, Bereavement & Loss, and Divorce & Separation.

The e-couch for Social Anxiety program provides information and teaches evidence-based skills to help people who are experiencing mild to moderate social anxiety symptoms. If your symptoms are distressing or limiting we suggest that you seek the advice of a GP, mental health professional, psychologist or a specialist medical practitioner to check out your mental health status.

Click here to take a brief Social Phobia Screener quiz for feedback about whether the e-couch for Social Anxiety program may be helpful for you.

The e-couch program content is suitable for users aged 16 years or older. However, the e-couch Terms of Use require that users from the USA and Canada are aged 18 years or older.

The e-couch program modules have been evaluated by research groups around the world.

The e-couch for Social Anxiety program has been studied in a large randomised controlled trial with self-selected community users in England. This trial showed a small but statistically significant improvement in social anxiety symptoms. You can access the research paper here: Powell J, Williams V, Atherton H, et al. Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of a Self-Guided Internet Intervention for Social Anxiety Symptoms in a General Population Sample: Randomized Controlled Trial. J Med Internet Res 2020;22(1) :e16804 .

A previous, smaller study also found that the e-couch for Social Anxiety program resulted in a significant reduction of symptoms in participants with social anxiety (Bowler JO, Mackintosh B, Dunn BD, et al. A comparison of cognitive bias modification for interpretation and computerized cognitive behavior therapy: effects on anxiety, depression, attentional control, and interpretive bias. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2012;80(6):1021-33.)

e-couch was originally developed and evaluated over 10 years by researchers at the Australian National University - the same team that developed the well-known moodgym program for depression and anxiety . The principal authors of the content were Professor Kathy Griffiths, Georgia Tayler and Professor Helen Christensen.

The development and delivery of e-couch is now undertaken by e-hub Health – an ANU spin-off company managed by the senior members of the original team. e-hub Health is committed to the ongoing development of quality resources which make a measurable impact in the wellbeing of users.