Phoenix Group Therapy


  1. Be motivated to overcome social anxiety.

    Social anxiety can make you feel trapped.  Even thinking about seeking help for overcoming social anxiety can be scary.  All of us who have suffered from social anxiety understand these feelings.  It takes courage to take this step.  Your decision to start overcoming social anxiety will change your life. 

    For the therapy to be effective, you need to be motivated to overcome social anxiety, committed to the group, and willing to cooperate in your own and everyone else’s progress.  To ensure that we maintain a motivated group of people throughout the length of the program, we ask you to sign a simple contract stating that you will participate in these sessions.

  2. Have social anxiety disorder, as defined by the DSM-5: 300.23.

    This is a comprehensive CBT treatment program for people with social anxiety disorder only.  We cannot admit people with other clinical anxiety disorders and/or other mental health care problems.  Most people with social anxiety have “bleed over” problems with other types of anxiety and depression.  This is typical and is not what we are referring to.

    Dr. Richards will see people individually if they have a more avoidant case of social anxiety (e.g., are not currently working or going to school/college due to high amounts of anxiety), to prepare them eventually for entrance into the CBT group.

  3. Apply and submit the application fee.

    Take time to provide as much information as you can on your application.  There is plenty of room to write your responses to the application questions.  We want to make sure that your investment in this program is the best option for you, and your application, with as much detail as you can include, helps Dr. Richards to determine this.

    Your application must be fully completed, digitally signed and submitted.  In order for your application to be reviewed, the application fee must also be submitted.  Without the application fee, Dr. Richards will not review the application.  The application fee is refundable if your application is not accepted for the program.  If you are accepted, your application fee is applied to your first Diagnostic Session.

  4. Individual Appointments

    Potential group members must attend one (1) Individual Diagnostic Session and two (2) Individual Appointments with Dr. Richards before the group begins.  The Diagnostic Session is necessary for assessment purposes, to ensure that you meet the clinical definition of social anxiety disorder.  The second Individual Appointment is to thoroughly talk about everything we will do in the therapy group – both cognitive and behavioral components – and give you a chance to ask any questions you may have.  The third Individual Appointment is a therapy session to see if you understand and are practicing on the initial therapy sessions.

  5. Begin using the audio therapy series.

    The group uses the audio therapy series “Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step”, which can be purchased online.   You need to be done with the first four (4) sessions prior to submitting your application, and farther along before the group starts.  The group begins from square one, at the beginning of the audio therapy series; however, you will begin using the series before the group starts. 

    Each week in the group we discuss and make practical use of each of the cognitive therapy methods, as is explained in the audio series.  Having this on your phone or other device allows you to be repetitive with the therapy and makes your progress against social anxiety more effective and quicker.

  6. Note the additional information from the "Descriptions" tab:   

    ***Necessary Group Requirements***


    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.   Many times parents want to include their child in the group, but 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 the group plans activities seven (7) days a week in the evening.  We consider these events as an integral part of the therapy, 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.  The group chooses the activities they're interested in,  but attending the chosen event each night, working daily with a therapy “buddy” or two, 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, seven (7) day-a-week program.   Everything is geared toward helping you use the solutions in the program to get better.   

    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 four (4) in the audio/video series at the time of application, and you need to guarantee that you will work through session eight (8) 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.  We cannot guarantee you a place in the group until you done two appointments AND you’ve contacted the office with details on your arrival and housing.  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. 

  5. Living more than twenty miles away from SAI is too far.  We are located almost directly off the northern loop of the freeway (101) and access to the institute is easy.  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.

    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 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. 

    Dr. Richards comments:  “I would much 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 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. 

  6. What to expect after you have submitted your application and application fee

    We will ask you to sign the behavioral and the financial contracts.   You will receive notification from SAI about the status of your application, assuming you have also submitted the application fee.  After reviewing your application, the office will contact you to set up the initial Diagnostic Session.