Dr Lusia Stopa

“Images in Social Anxiety: how they distort the self and how to change them”.  

5th May 2021

9.30 to 16.30 GMT

Dr Stopa is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Southampton, UK and Director of Clinical Psychology training.


Images in Social Anxiety


Negative images of the self are at the core of all current cognitive models of social anxiety disorder (Clark &Wells, 1995; Rapee & Heimberg, 1999,; Hofmann, 2007; Moscovitch, 2009). Within current protocols, treatments for these negative images include video feedback and behavioural experiments, both of which aim at helping people to develop a realistic view of how they appear to others. However, negative views of self are not limited to other people’s judgments and they can be entrenched and hard to change.  In general, negative self-images derive from experiences such as neglect, abuse, bullying, and abandonment (Hinrichsen, Morrison,Waller, & Schmidt, 2007; Patel, Brewin, Wheatley, Wells, & Myers, 2007; Wells & Hackmann, 1993). The images then help to maintain a vicious cycle of self-criticism, behavioral change (e.g.,avoidance, withdrawal), and disturbing physiological and emotional responses. In social anxiety disorder, negative self-images often drive a range of specific safety behaviours, such as intense self-monitoring and internal rehearsal of thoughts/behaviours, together with self-focused attention, all of which can significantly interfere with social performance.

There is growing evidence that imagery rescripting helps people to re-evaluate and change negative views of self across a range of disorders including social anxiety disorder  (Morina, Lancee, & Arntz, 2017; Stopa, 2011; Wild, Hackmann, & Clark, 2007, 2008). There is also experimental evidence that positive images of the self derived from autobiographical memories can produce short term reductions in social anxiety, improve actual and perceived social performance and enhance self-esteem (Stopa, Brown, & Hirsch, 2012; Ng, Abbott, & Hunt, 2014). In this workshop, we will look at imagery rescripting, consider the evidence for its efficacy, and learn how to apply it in the treatment of an individual with social anxiety disorder. We will consider current hypotheses about the potential mechanisms of change that might underlie imagery rescripting’s effectiveness. We will also cover how to access positive images through autobiographical memories and incorporate this into current treatments


About Lusia Stopa

Professor Lusia Stopa is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Southampton.

Lusia's path to her current role as Director of the Doctoral programme in Clinical Psychology is an unusual one because she began her academic career studying English Literature.  She then studied Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and moved to the Institute of Psychiatry (Kings College, London) to study for an MPhil in Clinical Psychology. Lusia completed a DPhil in cognitive processes in social anxiety, under the supervision of David Clark after she qualified as a Clinical Psychologist.

Following her DPhil, Lusia worked in the NHS as a Clinical Psychologist. She joined the University of Southampton in 1999 to set up the Diploma in Cognitive Therapy and to work on the Clinical Psychology Programme.

Her research focus has been on cognitive models of anxiety, imagery and the self. She has an honorary contract as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust 

After CBT programmes at Southampton University she took over the directorship of the Clinical Psychology doctoral programme in March 2014.

Recent publications

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