for people ages 18-55 (full criteria)
at La Jolla, California
study started
estimated completion
Charles Taylor



The overall goal of this project is to develop a novel transdiagnostic behavioral treatment -- social approach training -- intended to enhance positive social connections in individuals with elevated anxiety and/or depression. Social relationship impairments are pervasive and debilitating consequences of anxiety and depression. Existing treatments have some beneficial impact on social functioning; however, many people continue to have few and/or poor quality relationships following treatment, even after experiencing symptom relief. This study will evaluate the effects of social approach training on the brain systems that have been shown to be important for establishing positive connections with others. Approximately 60 individuals (ages 18-55) seeking treatment for anxiety or depression will participate in this study. Participants will be randomly assigned with equal probability to one of two versions of social approach training (5 or 10 sessions) or a waitlist (assessment only) control group. Participants will be assessed at baseline and post-treatment and compared on measures assessing brain responses to social reward (primary outcome), as well as physiological, behavioral, and emotional responses to social reward (secondary outcomes). It is hypothesized that participants assigned to social approach training will display greater increases from pre- to post-treatment in activity in brain systems that regulate the processing of social reward (e.g., striatum) relative to participants in the control group. This study will also determine whether the 5- vs. 10-session versions of the treatment program result in meaningful differences, compared to each other, in how the brain responds to social reward.

Official Title

Novel Behavioral Intervention to Target Social Reward Sensitivity and Attachment


Anxiety Disorders and Symptoms Depression Depressive Disorder Anxiety Disorders Social Approach Training (5 sessions) Social Approach Training (10 sessions)


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18-55

  1. Score on the PHQ-9 is 10 or higher and/or score on the OASIS is 8 or higher.
  2. Social Connectedness Scale Revised (SCSR) < 90
  3. Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS) - Social Domain ≥ 5
  4. Between the ages of 18-55, inclusive.
  5. Have sufficient proficiency in English language to understand and complete interviews, questionnaires, and all other study procedures.

You CAN'T join if...

  1. No telephone or easy access to telephone.
  2. Any substance use disorder in the past year except subjects with mild alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and marijuana use disorders will be permitted in the study.
  3. Bipolar I or Psychotic disorders.
  4. Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury with evidence of neurological deficits, neurological disorders, or severe or unstable medical conditions that might be compromised by participation in the study.
  5. Current and regular use (more days than not during the past 30 days) of a medication that could affect brain functioning, such as anxiolytics, antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, beta-blockers, sleep medications, opioids/codeine, migraine medications.
  6. MRI contraindications including: cardiac pacemaker, metal fragments in eyes/skin/body (shrapnel), aortic/aneurysm clips, prosthesis, by-pass surgery/coronary artery clips, hearing aid, heart valve replacement, shunt (ventricular or spinal), electrodes, metal plates/pins/screws/wires, or neuro/bio-stimulators (TENS unit), persons who have ever been a metal worker/welder, history of eye surgery/eyes washed out because of metal, vision problems uncorrectable with lenses, inability to lie still on one's back for 60 minutes; prior neurosurgery; tattoos with metal dyes, unwillingness to remove body piercings, and pregnancy.
  7. non-correctable vision or hearing problems, as some tests require intact sensory functioning.
  8. Concurrent psychosocial treatment: Participants completing ongoing empirically supported psychosocial treatment for the presenting problem will be required to meet 12-week stability criteria so that symptom changes as a result of other psychosocial treatments are not confounded with changes due to the research.
  9. Inability to complete the initial assessment battery or treatment sessions.
  10. . Clinical conditions assessed by the interviewer that necessitate more imminent clinical care (e.g., active suicidal ideation): These criteria are in place so participants with these other, more several symptoms can be referred for appropriate mental health services.


  • Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute
    La Jolla California 92037 United States

Lead Scientist

  • Charles Taylor
    Associate Adjunct Professor, Psychiatry. Authored (or co-authored) 29 research publications


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Diego
Study Type
Last Updated