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The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) is a measuring tool that can examine the intensity of a patient’s social anxiety or phobia, if ever he has one. It comes in the survey form of a questionnaire that patients can easily answer on their own and in private. The author of the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale was Dr. Michael R. Liebowitz, an American psychiatrist who also founded the Anxiety Disorders Clinic in New York.
The content of the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale generally consists of 24 items that specify some social situations a patient can experience. Examples of these situations are publicly using a phone, presenting a report in front of a crowd, and attending a party. A patient has to provide two answers for each item, one related to fear, and one of avoidance. For instance, a person has to rate his fear of performing on stage, and how often he avoids doing so. In some cases in which a patient has not yet personally experienced one or two scenarios, the instructions suggest that he ask himself, “What would I do if I go through this situation?”
A patient taking the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale can rate his fear from a scale of zero to three, with zero being no fear and three being a severe fear in a given situation. The rate of avoidance is also scaled from zero to three, with zero representing that the patient does not avoid the situation, while answering three means the patient would usually avoid it. The scores are then tallied to numerically measure a patient’s level of social anxiety. The highest possible score a patient can get, when the rates of both fear and avoidance are combined, is 144.
Generally, a higher score in the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale indicates a stronger degree of social anxiety in a patient. A score from 55 to 65 means that the patient has moderate social phobia that is not easily noticed, while a patient with a score of 65 to 80 may have a marked or apparent social phobia. Patients scoring from 80 to 95 have severe social phobia, while those who score more than 95 have a very severe social anxiety disorder. The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale is only a part one of the tools in diagnosing a patient, as a comprehensive and in-depth interview should be conducted between the patient and the psychologist. The questionnaire can be answered several times during a patient’s treatment process, in order to determine his progress toward overcoming his social anxiety disorder.