Phoenix Group Therapy


The local Phoenix CBT group is a friendly, active, structured group that can change your life.  Our only goal is learning to get over social anxiety.  Cognitive-behavioral group therapy has been shown to be most effective at eliciting long-term, permanent change. We use a gradual (step by step) approach to (a) limit anxiety, and (b) allow progress to become permanent.  This is best achieved in a structured group setting.   We handle all therapy with as much calmness and peace as possible. 

The 10 week Local Phoenix CBT program is an active, structured treatment program for people with social anxiety disorder.  The program is run by Dr. Thomas A. Richards, a psychologist, who has been running social anxiety therapy groups since 1995, with great success.

A new group consists of  no more than eight (8) members who are motivated and ready to overcome social anxiety.  New group members will be using mindful cognitive methods and strategies using the audio/video  therapy series, “Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step.”  By using the series, you receive daily reinforcement of what we are doing in the group.

The all-day Saturday session includes review, discussion, and reinforcement of the cognitive therapy.  We have had multiple past group members move to Phoenix from out of state, and if you are interested in doing this you should read Moving to Phoenix.

Behavioral activities are also included during the sessions in which you gently move up your anxiety hierarchy at your own pace and completely under your own direction.  Group members only do behavioral experiments when they feel ready.  You are never forced or made to do anything.  Working at your own pace when you are ready to volunteer to do behavioral activities is the only way to effectively overcome social anxiety.


We run the active, structured cognitive-behavioral therapy group for people who are willing and motivated to overcome social anxiety.  This means we work with people who will do what’s necessary to overcome social anxiety. 

We can only work with self-motivated people.  We cannot accept people unless they themselves want to participate.   There is nothing anyone can do unless change is wanted by the individual themselves.  This means a willing and active participant in the group.    

The therapy group is held all day on Saturday, and at the end of the session the group plans activities for the next seven (7) days a week in the evening.  We consider these events as an integral part of the therapy program, as you work together with other group members during these times, reminding each other of the anti-anxiety strategies to use as you are in various situations.  You pick the activities you want to go to, but attending the event each night, working daily with a therapy “buddy” and eventually participating in the behavioral experiments is all an essential part of the program.  

We ask you to sign a contract stating you understand and will comply with this.  Again, this program is an everyday, 7 day a week, program.   Everything is geared toward helping you use the solutions in the program to get better.   Visiting with Dr. Richards once a week for a private session is necessary, and costs can be adjusted when necessary.

Please do not apply unless you meet the following qualifications:

  1. The new application must be filled out fully.  Questions need to be answered completely.  No simple or short answers, please.  If you can’t answer the questions, you are probably not ready for the group. 

  2. It is necessary to be through session three (3) in the audio/video series at the time of application, and you need to guarantee that you will work through session six (6) before the group actually starts. 

  3. Three (3) individual sessions with Dr. Richards are needed before before the group starts.  The first is a diagnostic session.  In the second appointment we talk about everything the group does, both cognitively and behaviorally, so you will have no surprises.  In the final pre-group appointment, you’ll discuss the therapy sessions themselves with Dr. Richards.   Please schedule appropriately:  No more than one appointment per week, and do not plan last week or last minute appointments.    

  4. People moving here from out of town must check in with the office BEFORE moving.   Please do NOT move here until you are formally accepted into the group.   You MUST tell us where (location) you’re planning on living so we can give you general advice and make sure you are living a reasonable driving distance from SAI. 

We want to prevent problems that have existed in the past and hinder people from overcoming social anxiety.

Living a reasonable distance from SAI is important for participating in weeknight therapy activities.  (We’ve now had someone who’s moved to Phoenix, but was 75 miles away from SAI, making it difficult for the person to therapize every day with the other group members.)  Although everyone agrees in writing to take part in the nightly activities, we’ve now had three (3) people who did not carry through with this, and took up space in the group that someone else who was more motivated could have had.

It is necessary to hang out with other group members in the evening so that you can get to know them and feel comfortable in their presence.  You will also find a therapy friend that helps you with the solutions as you help them (you motivate and hold each other accountable).  Keep in mind that people with social anxiety are non-judgmental, and you will not feel self-consciousness in the group.  The group activities are planned by you, the group members, and we only move one step at a time.  We learn how to gradually, and without anxiety, ease into situations.  Later, the group works together doing behavioral experiments, usually at a large shopping center. 

We would  rather run a group with 4 motivated people than have a group of eight who won’t do what’s necessary to overcome social anxiety.  It’s exciting when people are motivated to get better.  You can feel the therapeutic electricity in the air.

Since we move slowly, one step at a time, and gently guide you through each step, and since you will have daily help and support, making progress is not difficult.  But when a group member doesn’t do the therapy and/or refuses to take part in the nightly activities, they have essentially chosen not to get better.  Please do not plan to join our group unless you really want to overcome social anxiety and will do what’s necessary.  The process takes daily interaction with the other group members. 

We are located almost directly off the northern loop of the freeway (101) and access to the institute is easy.  Please use Google Earth to map out exactly where we are: 2058 E. Topeka Dr. 85024.  However, living on the other end of the city – which could be 100 miles away -- will prohibit you from taking part in the daily therapy program – and daily participation is important to overcoming social anxiety.   

This is a comprehensive seven-day-a-week program that requires daily participation with other group members.  You plan events each day of the week and the cognitive/behavioral therapy group is conducted on Saturday.  

Remember, our groups consist only of people with social anxiety.  The groups are friendly and highly therapeutic.  Working together with other people like you adds a tremendous amount of proactivity to the program.  You will always have the encouragement and support of Dr. Richards and staff.  Plus, you will always be surrounded by your group members who will help you when needed just as you will help them.  Your decision to actively and persistently work on overcoming social anxiety will change your life.

The first group meeting covers sessions #1-4 in the online therapy series, "Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step".  It is imperative people be conversant with the therapy and have a good understanding of it.  We prefer people who have done the first eight (8) sessions on their own before the therapy group begins.   Having this cognitive understanding and knowledge will allow you to make more efficient and faster progress in the group. 


The Social Anxiety Institute uses social-anxiety specific cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), from the perspective of mindfulness and acceptance.  The only therapy shown to be effective for overcoming social anxiety disorder is this form of cognitive-behavioral therapy.  Another way of explaining this type of therapy is RATIONAL emotive therapy.   Learning to see things "rationally" is a big part of the program.    Please take the time to read these articles:

What is CBT?
Why CBT works for Social Anxiety
Successful Social Anxiety Groups

Please also read the main articles on this website.  It is impossible to repeat them all here.  But all of them do apply.  We're only looking for people who understand the importance of repetition and reinforcement.

Appropriate CBT for social anxiety is not difficult, by itself.  But, the program will emphasize the persistence necessary to overcome this disorder.  You must be motivated and willing to change in order for CBT to work.  In therapy, we work toward a rational, permanent change in the brain’s neural pathways, to include the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, emotions, and behaviors.  The brain can only process new thoughts and beliefs with repetition of rational information over a period of time.  The key words here are repetition and consistency.

Participating in the group is much easier than you expect.  There is never a rational reason to be anxious about participation.  Dr. Richards lived with social anxiety for 40 years, so he understands how to run a group without causing you anxiety or embarrassment.  You are never singled out, called on to answer questions, or made the center of attention.  You must be ready, not forced, to do these things for therapy to be effective.  The group operates on a volunteer basis.  Only when you are ready will you volunteer to answer questions, read publicly, or do any other activity.  You are never pressured, forced, or coerced into doing anything.

Group members are always relieved to find an entire group of people who have social anxiety just like they do.  The realization that you are not alone is very motivating. People fit in the group fairly quickly and make acquaintances and friends faster than they expect.


The Local Phoenix Group is held on Saturdays from 10 to 2:30.  During the last few minutes, the group plans the activities for each night's activities based on what you want to do, and later on what you want to work on that will help you overcome social anxiety (e.g., shopping center experiments, etc.)  We consider TWO ten week groups to be the minimum attendance needed to overcome social anxiety.  Every one is different, but one ten week group will provide help that you can feel (quantify) but it will not be enough to make you happy.  You will want to keep making progress.  Continuing with your friends in the group will make sense to you at this point.  


All groups are open and friendly.  Only people with social anxiety are members.  We will move along in an easy, step by step manner, with no pressure being put on you.  You do not need to say or do anything until you feel ready to participate.  It is much easier to participate in the group than you think.  We do not want you to have or to reinforce anxiety.  We will come at the problem completely differently than you've ever done before.  We will take one little step a time -- one that will cause only the smallest amount of nervousness -- and gradually move up from there.  The small, or incremental, steps help you make forward progress much faster than you think.  

Doing the therapy, cognitive and behavioral, and hanging out with other group members will change your life completely.  The brain does learn new rational thoughts and habits, and you learn to reduce and keep reducing anxiety, day by day.   We want to stay consistent with our persistence in doing the therapy every day.  It's not hard to do at all -- most people say it's fairly easy, in fact. 

We can no longer accept insurance, although you can file this yourself if you want.

Individual Appointment Fees *

Appointment Fee
Diagnostic Appointment  (1st appointment) $175.00
Individual Appointments   (all other appointments) $150.00

Initial individual appointments are at regular rates.  Sliding fee scale does not apply.

*See Requirements for explanation on appointments.

Regular Rate $150.00 / Session

The Regular Rate is $150.00 per group or individual session.  After the initial three sessions, you can use the sliding fee if needed.

Sliding Fee Scale Rates

The Sliding Fee Scale is available only for participants in need of financial assistance.  To be eligible for Sliding Fee Scale Rates, participant will sign a formal statement as to financial status and submit a previous year’s income tax filing return.  Sliding Fee Scale Rates are based on annual family income.

Annual Family Income Fee per Group Session
Over $100,000 $150.00
$75,000 - $99,999 $140.00
$50,000 - $74,999 $130.00
$25,000 - $49,999 $115.00
0 - $25,000 $100.00

If you file your own insurance, Dr. Richards will sign and date your form, according to law.  
Dr. Richards is a licensed psychologist with a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) from an accredited institution (Arizona State University). 

Group members weekly appointments with Dr. Richards can be adjusted below sliding scale rates if financial circumstances dictate. 

Application for the all-day Saturday Phoenix therapy program.