Our attention can be directed externally (towards the world around us) or internally (towards our emotions, body sensations, or cognitive content). Attention which becomes overly self-focused can become a maintaining factor in conditions such as social anxiety disorder – biased attention can increase the likelihood of biased perception (e.g. greater likelihood of noticing body sensations) and biased interpretation (e.g. misinterpreting body sensations). This Self-Focused Attention Monitoring Record is designed to help clients to better understand the relationships between their feelings and their attentional focus. It can be used prior to or alongside therapeutic manipulations / behavioral experiments which manipulate attentional focus.
Clients should be instructed to record specific instances in which they were aware of strong emotions, or attentional shifts.
- In the first column (Situation) clients should be instructed to record what they were doing when they started to notice a significant change in how they were feeling. Training clients to record specific details (such as who they were with, where they were, and what had just happened) is often helpful when later elaborating a memory for an event, or simply in understanding the reasons for subsequent thoughts and responses.
- In columns two, three, and four clients should record what percentage of their attention was focused on: (A) them self including thoughts, feelings, and body sensations; (B) the task which they were attempting to complete; (C) their environment. The total of these percentages should add up to 100%.
- In the final column (Distress) clients should record how distressed or uncomfortable they felt in that situation.
- Clark, D. M., & Wells, A. (1995). A cognitive model of social phobia. In R. R. G. Heimberg, M. Liebowitz, D. A. Hope, & S. Scheier (Eds.), Social phobia: diagnosis, assessment and treatment. New York: Guilford.
- Ingram, R. E. (1990). Self-focused attention in clinical disorders: Review and a conceptual model. Psychological Bulletin, 107(2), 156.
- Spurr, J. M., & Stopa, L. (2002). Self-focused attention in social phobia and social anxiety. Clinical Psychology Review, 22(7), 947-975.