Dr. Michael R. Liebowitz of Columbia University is noted for the research he has done on social anxiety disorders, and the creation of a social anxiety scale. He founded the first Anxiety Disorders Clinic in New York State, and was instrumental in treatments and research of social anxiety disorders. The anxiety scale named after him is commonly used in clinical research and testing for social anxiety.
The Liebowitz Anxiety Scale is a list of twenty-four questions with answers under two headings, Fear and Avoidance. The LSAS was designed for use by psychologists to determine the extent of performance and social interaction for patients who already have been diagnosed with social anxieties. It was never intended for individuals to self-diagnose their own condition.
Thirteen of the questions relate to performance anxiety or how certain activities cause anxiety emotions. The other eleven questions relate to general social situations.
Filling Out the Questionnaire
The questions are generally asked of patients in a clinical condition, but they are not supervised closely. It is more important to researchers that the questions are answered honestly and without any pressure to the individuals. Some questions concern situations that are not relevant to the experience of the patients, but they are asked to consider how they would feel if they were subjected to the hypothetical situation.
Those answering the questionnaire are asked how they would feel or react based on their state of mind of the previous week, so that it more honestly gives a portrait of their current mindset. The results of the test point to how phobias affect an individual in different life situations.
Two Responses Needed
The scale of the test allows for a multiple choice of four answers for how much fear a situation causes and the same number of choices for how much the individual will try to avoid the situation.
Answers for this feeling are none, mild, moderate, and severe. Obviously, the more fearful the situation is to the person, the more anxiety is attributed to it.
How much a patient wants to avoid something also indicates anxiety. The answers for this column are never, occasionally, often, and usually.
Each answer scores from 0 to 3 points, with the higher number attributed to most severe fears or attempts to avoid a situation.
How the Test is Scored
As you might imagine, the lower the score the better for the person’s condition, as long as the answers are honest. A score below 55 is considered a good response, while from there to 65 indicates a moderate socially phobic person.
From 65 to 80 is a prominent social phobia. After those scores, any higher numbers indicate a severe social anxiety condition, and if it is over 95, it indicates a very phobic condition, and the person in that condition has a most difficult time dealing with even the most ordinary events in life.
Although the doctors say that the questionnaire can’t be correctly read by the general public, it does indicate rather clearly that a problem exists. Viewing each question line by line might more accurately point to the types of social phobias a person has. To get a good indication of those answers would most definitely require the expertise of a professional.
The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale is a good tool to show the degree of anxiety of which a person is suffering and it can also show any advancements or progress made in the condition. Unfortunately, it doesn’t directly help to solve the problem for the phobic person.
If your anxiety is preventing you from having an active social life, you might benefit knowing where you stand on the social anxiety scale. Click through to find the solution to your social anxieties.
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