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Bergen 4-Day Treatment (B4DT) for Social Anxiety Disorder: Effective with High Patient Satisfaction (2024 Study)

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a debilitating condition that affects a significant portion of the population, characterized by a paralyzing fear of social situations.

Recent studies have explored concentrated and intensified cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) methods, such as the Bergen 4-Day Treatment (B4DT), as innovative approaches to treating SAD.


  1. High Efficacy: The B4DT has shown large effect sizes for reducing symptoms of social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and depression, demonstrating its potential as a highly effective treatment method for SAD.
  2. Rapid Results: The intensive 4-day format of the B4DT leads to quick improvements in SAD symptoms, offering a promising alternative to traditional, longer-term therapies.
  3. High Patient Satisfaction: Patients report high levels of satisfaction with the B4DT, indicating that the intensive treatment format is both acceptable and beneficial from a patient perspective.
  4. Promising Remission & Response Rates: The B4DT has achieved high rates of treatment response and remission in SAD patients, suggesting it could significantly improve quality of life for those affected.

Source: BMC Psychiatry (2024)

The Bergen 4-Day Treatment (B4DT) for Social Anxiety (Overview)

The Bergen 4-Day Treatment (B4DT) represents a groundbreaking approach in the treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), offering a concentrated, intensive therapeutic intervention.

This treatment model diverges from traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) by condensing months of therapy into four consecutive days.

Developed and refined in Bergen, Norway, the B4DT has expanded its application from initially treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) to addressing SAD, showcasing remarkable efficacy and patient satisfaction.

History & Development

  • Origins: The B4DT was initially designed for OCD patients in Norway, leveraging the principles of exposure and response prevention in a condensed format. Its success prompted researchers and clinicians to adapt this model for other conditions, including SAD.
  • Expansion: Following the positive outcomes observed in OCD treatment, the methodology was tailored to meet the specific needs of individuals with SAD. This adaptation focused on intensive exposure exercises, cognitive restructuring, and the development of coping strategies over a short period.

Mechanisms of Action

  1. Intensive Exposure: Central to the B4DT is the use of intensive, prolonged exposure to social situations that provoke anxiety. This exposure is carefully planned and executed to ensure that patients face their fears in a controlled, therapeutic context, facilitating the learning of new responses to previously feared situations.
  2. Cognitive Restructuring: Patients are guided through processes that challenge and modify distorted cognitions related to social interactions. This cognitive work helps in reshaping beliefs about the self, others, and social situations that contribute to social anxiety.
  3. Skills Training: The B4DT incorporates specific strategies and skills training, such as social skills, assertiveness training, and relaxation techniques, to equip patients with the tools needed to manage and navigate social situations more effectively.
  4. Leaning Into Anxiety: A unique aspect of the B4DT is encouraging patients to “lean into” their anxiety rather than employing avoidance or safety behaviors. This approach fosters acceptance and tolerance of distressing emotions, promoting resilience and adaptive coping.
  5. Rapid Feedback & Iteration: Given the condensed nature of the treatment, patients receive immediate feedback on their exposure exercises and cognitive restructuring efforts. This rapid iteration allows for quick adjustments and learning, enhancing the treatment’s effectiveness.

Structure of the B4DT

The B4DT unfolds over four days, each with a specific focus and set of activities:

  • Day 1: Psychoeducation, treatment rationale, and planning of individualized exposure tasks.
  • Days 2 & 3: Intensive therapist-assisted exposure therapy, both individually and in groups, alongside cognitive restructuring tasks.
  • Day 4: Review of progress, relapse prevention planning, and strategies for maintaining gains and continuing self-directed exposure post-treatment.

(Related: Bergen 4-Day Treatment for OCD in Adolescents)

Major Findings: Bergen 4-Day Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

Bjarne Hansen et al. tested the Bergen 4-Day Treatment (B4DT) in Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) via a pilot study – below are the major findings.

1. Reduction in Symptoms of Social Anxiety

Large Effect Sizes: The study observed large effect sizes for the reduction of SAD symptoms across all measurement points. The effect sizes ranged from d = 1.94 at post-treatment to d = 2.66 at the 3-month follow-up, indicating a substantial decrease in social anxiety symptoms from baseline to follow-up assessments.

Clinical Significance: The mean Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) score at pretreatment was significantly above the clinical cut-off for SAD, illustrating the severe level of impairment among participants. Post-treatment and follow-up scores fell below this clinical threshold, highlighting the clinical significance of the symptom reduction achieved through the B4DT.

2. Reduced Generalized Anxiety & Depression

Generalized Anxiety: For generalized anxiety symptoms measured by the GAD-7 scale, the study reported effect sizes of d = 0.99 from pretreatment to posttreatment and d = 0.86 from pretreatment to follow-up. This indicates a significant reduction in generalized anxiety symptoms, with scores transitioning from moderate to mild anxiety levels.

Depression Symptoms: Depression symptoms, assessed using the PHQ-9, also saw considerable reductions with effect sizes of d = 0.83 from pretreatment to posttreatment and d = 0.62 from pretreatment to follow-up. These findings suggest a noteworthy improvement in comorbid depression symptoms among participants.

3. High Response & Remission Rates

High Response Rate: At the 3-month follow-up, 89.7% of the patients were classified as treatment responders, demonstrating a significant reduction in their LSAS scores from baseline. This high response rate underscores the efficacy of the B4DT in achieving meaningful clinical improvements in a short timeframe.

Remission Rate: The remission rate, defined as an LSAS score of 30 or lower, was 55.2% at follow-up. This rate is particularly notable, considering the concentrated nature of the treatment and the chronicity of SAD in the participant population.

4. High Patient Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: Patients reported a high level of satisfaction with the B4DT, with the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire-8 (CSQ-8) yielding a mean score indicative of high satisfaction levels. This reflects positively on the acceptability of the intensive treatment format and the perceived quality and effectiveness of the therapy received.

Treatment Acceptance: The detailed feedback captured by the CSQ-8 revealed that a significant majority of patients rated the quality of care as excellent and would recommend the treatment to a friend. Furthermore, a large proportion of patients felt that the treatment had met most or all of their needs, emphasizing the treatment’s relevance and impact on their condition.

Bergen 4-Day Treatment for Social Anxiety (2024 Study)

The primary aim of the study was to investigate the feasibility of the B4DT for treating patients with SAD, assessing its effectiveness in significantly reducing symptoms of social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and depression.


  • Design: The study adopted an open trial design without a control group, focusing on a naturalistic assessment of treatment outcomes.
  • Participants: Thirty patients diagnosed with SAD were consecutively referred and treated, with assessments conducted at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and at a 3-month follow-up.
  • Measures: The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) assessed symptoms of SAD; the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 scale (GAD-7) measured anxiety symptoms; the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) evaluated depression symptoms; and the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire-8 (CSQ-8) was administered post-treatment to gauge patient satisfaction.


  • Efficacy: The study reported large effect sizes for the reduction of SAD symptoms (d = 1.94–2.66) and secondary outcomes like generalized anxiety (d = 0.86–0.99) and depression (d = 0.62–0.83). Treatment response rate was 89.7%, with a remission rate of 55.2% at follow-up.
  • Patient Satisfaction: High levels of satisfaction were reported with the B4DT, indicating the treatment’s acceptability and potential value to patients.


  • Lack of Control Group: The open trial design without a control group limits the ability to attribute observed changes directly to the treatment, as external factors could not be controlled or compared.
  • Small Sample Size: With only thirty participants, the findings may not generalize to broader populations.
  • Short Follow-Up Period: The follow-up period of three months may not sufficiently capture long-term outcomes or the stability of treatment gains over time.


  • Innovative Treatment Format: The B4DT’s condensed, intensive approach represents a novel treatment option for SAD, addressing limitations of traditional therapies.
  • Comprehensive Assessment: Utilizing a range of measures to assess various aspects of SAD and its comorbidities provided a well-rounded understanding of treatment impacts.
  • Promising Outcomes: The significant reductions in symptoms of SAD, alongside high patient satisfaction, highlight the potential of B4DT as an effective treatment option.
  • Low Dropout Rate: A high completion rate (97%) indicates the treatment’s feasibility and patients’ willingness to engage with the intensive format.

Which Patients are Best for the Bergen 4-Day Treatment for Social Anxiety?

The Bergen 4-Day Treatment (B4DT) for Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) represents a significant advancement in the field of psychotherapy, offering a condensed, intensive treatment model that diverges from traditional multi-week cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches.

Despite its promising outcomes, including large effect sizes in symptom reduction and high patient satisfaction, the B4DT might not be universally effective for all patients with anxiety disorders.

The variability in treatment response can be attributed to a range of factors, including the underlying genetic components of anxiety, patient-specific characteristics, and the nature of anxiety disorders themselves.

1. Genetic Components & Treatment Responsiveness

Research has consistently shown that genetic factors play a crucial role in the development and severity of anxiety disorders, including SAD.

Individuals with a strong genetic predisposition to anxiety may exhibit a more profound or complex neurobiological response to anxiety-provoking stimuli, potentially influencing their responsiveness to treatments like the B4DT.

  • Neurobiological Underpinnings: The effectiveness of exposure-based therapies, a core component of the B4DT, may be moderated by an individual’s neurobiological makeup. For instance, variations in neurotransmitter systems, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are influenced by genetics, can affect how a person responds to cognitive and exposure therapies.
  • Temperament & Personality: Genetic factors also contribute to temperament and personality traits, such as behavioral inhibition or a tendency towards heightened emotional reactivity. These traits can influence how patients engage with the treatment, potentially affecting outcomes. Patients with high levels of behavioral inhibition, for example, might find the intensive exposure component of the B4DT more challenging, potentially leading to reduced efficacy.

2. Patient Characteristics Benefitting from B4DT

Conversely, patients without a strong genetic predisposition to anxiety, or those whose anxiety is more situational or learned through life experiences, may derive substantial benefit from the B4DT.

These individuals might have developed anxiety in response to specific environmental factors or negative experiences, making the exposure and cognitive restructuring components of the B4DT particularly effective.

  • High Motivation & Engagement: Patients who are highly motivated and actively engage with the treatment process may experience more significant benefits from the B4DT. The intensive nature of the program requires a high level of commitment, and those prepared to confront their fears directly may achieve better outcomes.
  • Adaptability to Intensive Exposure: Individuals who are more adaptable to intensive exposure therapy, possibly due to less severe or non-genetically based anxiety, can make rapid gains over the course of the treatment. The B4DT’s structured and focused approach provides these patients with the tools and strategies needed to manage their anxiety effectively, often resulting in substantial improvements.
  • Absence of Complex Comorbidities: Patients whose primary challenge is SAD, without complex comorbid conditions (e.g., severe depression, bipolar disorder, or personality disorders), tend to respond better to the B4DT. The presence of certain comorbidities, particularly those with a strong genetic basis, can complicate treatment and may require more specialized or prolonged interventions.

Potential Applications & Implications of the Bergen 4-Day Treatment Study for Social Anxiety

The Bergen 4-Day Treatment (B4DT) for Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) represents a paradigm shift in how mental health professionals approach the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Clinical Practice

  • Rapid Intervention: The B4DT offers a fast-acting treatment alternative for SAD, potentially reducing the burden on mental health services by offering quicker symptom relief compared to traditional, longer-term therapies.
  • Increased Accessibility: By condensing treatment into four days, the B4DT could significantly increase treatment accessibility for individuals unable to commit to weekly therapy sessions over several months due to logistical or financial constraints.
  • Enhanced Treatment Engagement: The intensive nature of the B4DT, coupled with its reported high levels of patient satisfaction, may enhance treatment engagement and reduce dropout rates, a common challenge in traditional CBT for SAD.

Healthcare Policy

  • Resource Allocation: The efficiency of the B4DT in delivering rapid improvements could lead to a reconsideration of resource allocation within mental health services, prioritizing intensive treatment options for their potential to deliver swift outcomes.
  • Insurance Coverage: Healthcare insurers might need to adjust coverage policies to include intensive treatment modalities like the B4DT, recognizing their effectiveness and the potential for reducing overall treatment costs by shortening the duration of therapy needed.
  • Training & Certification: The implementation of the B4DT on a wider scale would necessitate the development of specific training and certification programs for therapists, ensuring the treatment is delivered consistently and effectively across different settings.


  • Long-Term Efficacy Studies: While the initial findings are promising, long-term studies are needed to assess the durability of the treatment effects and the potential for relapse over time.
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research: Future research should compare the B4DT directly with traditional CBT and other treatment modalities for SAD to establish relative effectiveness, cost-efficiency, and patient preference.
  • Mechanism of Change Exploration: Investigating the specific mechanisms through which the B4DT facilitates change in SAD symptoms can enhance understanding and potentially inform further refinement of the treatment protocol.
  • Expansion to Other Disorders: Exploring the applicability of the B4DT framework to other anxiety disorders and mental health conditions could significantly impact the field of psychotherapy, offering new pathways for rapid and effective treatment.

Potential Applications Beyond Clinical Settings

  • Preventative Measures: The B4DT model could inspire preventative programs targeting individuals at high risk of developing SAD, offering intensive, short-term interventions designed to mitigate the onset of full-blown anxiety disorders.
  • Workplace Mental Health Initiatives: Organizations could adopt B4DT-based programs to address work-related social anxiety, enhancing employee well-being and productivity by providing an efficient, evidence-based treatment option.
  • Educational Systems: Schools and universities could implement B4DT-inspired interventions to support students with social anxiety, potentially improving educational outcomes and student life quality.

Conclusion: Bergen 4-Day Treatment for Social Anxiety

The Bergen 4-Day Treatment (B4DT) for Social Anxiety Disorder presents a promising, innovative approach to rapid symptom reduction, demonstrating significant improvements in SAD symptoms, generalized anxiety, and depression.

With its intensive, concentrated format, the B4DT achieves large effect sizes and high patient satisfaction, suggesting a high potential for broader application in clinical settings.

However, the treatment’s efficacy may vary among individuals, particularly influenced by genetic factors and the presence of comorbid conditions, highlighting the need for personalized treatment considerations.

Despite these variations, the low dropout rate and substantial remission and response rates underscore the B4DT’s acceptability and effectiveness for many patients.

Future research should focus on controlled trials to further validate the B4DT against traditional CBT approaches, exploring long-term outcomes and cost-effectiveness.

This study lays a foundational step towards rethinking traditional treatment timelines for SAD, offering hope for quicker, effective interventions for those grappling with social anxiety.


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