Attention training social anxiety worksheet

What is the theory behind this Attention training social anxiety worksheet?

People with social anxiety disorder have a tendency to focus their attention on their internal experience during a social situation. As a result, they are overwhelmed with negative thoughts. This prevents them from working towards their goal of socializing. Attention training provides distraction from these thoughts and helps socially anxious individuals to be mindful.

How will the worksheet help?    

This worksheet will help clients in dealing with distracting negative thoughts they have during a social situation that stops them from socializing. Mastering shifting their attention will give them a sense of agency and confidence. 

How to use this worksheet?

To use this worksheet, make a list of the sounds you are going to utilize for this exercise. Then follow the instructions below. First practice this at home, then apply it in a social setting. After doing the latter, answer the self reflective questions.

Attention training social anxiety worksheet 

Make a list of 3 sounds outside and inside of the room where the social interaction will take place

Inside soundOutside sound 

Selective attention switch

Fix your gaze on one item in the room, eg. a piece of furniture, a mark on the wall, a spot on the floor etc. Then, focus your attention to a single sound present inside the room (pick number 1 from the list above). If the negative thoughts try to shift your attention, try to refocus again. Do this for 3 minutes.

Now repeat the focus exercise but shift your sound to number 2 from the list. 

Repeat this third time with sound number 3 from the list

Rapid switching

Now fasten the attention switching process from sound number 1, 2 and 3 from the list of ‘Inside sound’. 

Divide attention

This process requires you to shift from the sounds inside to the sound outside of the room (pick from the list above). First switch between 3 minutes. Then rapidly do this exercise. 

Self reflection

How effective this exercise has proven to you in a social situation?

What do you think you could have done differently to make this exercise more effective?


Schmidt, N. B., Richey, J. A., Buckner, J. D., & Timpano, K. R. (2009). Attention training for generalized social anxiety disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118(1), 5–14.

You can download this worksheet here.

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