Research and Clinical Trials


Fjola Helgadottir graduation

AI-Therapy has its roots in a program called was developed between the years of 2007 and 2011 at the University of Sydney. The program was Fjola Helgadottir's PhD research project, and was developed by her under the supervision of Associate Professor Ross Menzies. The original aim of was to develop innovative ways to deliver psychological treatment to people in rural Australia, who generally did not have access to professionally trained therapists. The target population of the original program was people with stutter and social anxiety. was built using a wealth of psychological data that had been gathered from major anxiety and mood clinics over a period of 20 years. This information was used to create a database of individualized clinical interventions. It is this unique approach to automated online therapy that led to Fjola receiving the prestigious Tracy Goodall Award in 2009.

In 2012, Fjola and Ross decided to take what they had learned from, and create a program accessible to anyone worldwide. Unlike the original program, the new one would be suitable for all people who suffer from social anxiety, not just those with stutter. Fjola and Ross redeveloped and redesigned the treatment program, and launched it as AI-Therapy - Overcome Social Anxiety in August 2012.

Clinical Trials

In 2019 a study of real world data was published, indicating that Overcome Social Anxiety has been effectinve in treating social anxiety in over 30 countries: "Evaluating a Web-Based Social Anxiety Intervention Among Community Users: Analysis of Real-World Data. The program also had the highest completion rate in a community sample.

In 2018 a randomized control trial for AI-Therapy's Overcome Social Anxiety program was published. The results of this trial were very strong. In particular, the effect size was triple that of other standalone treatments. Furthermore, the findings indicated that Overcome Social Anxiety is comparably effective to therapist-assisted interventions. The study was conducted by the University of British Columbia, and AI-Therapy was not involved in the data analysis.

Previously, two trials were conducted on The first study involved 2 participants with a diagnosis of social phobia, and both lost their diagnosis following treatment. A second study involved 18 participants. 10 of these participants completed all seven sections of the program, and everyone who had a social phobia diagnosis prior to starting the program no longer met the criteria for social phobia after the program. Furthermore, of the 16 participants who began the program, there was a statistically significant reduction in symptoms of social anxiety, unhelpful thoughts and depressed mood.

Proven Techniques

AI-Therapy's Overcome Social Anxiety is an evidence-based program. Furthermore, it only uses well-established, evidence-based therapies. In particular, it uses a therapeutic approach known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Hundreds of clinical trials over the past 30 years have confirmed the long-term effectiveness of CBT for treating anxiety among adults.


More information about the academic research underpinning the program can be found in the following peer-reviewed papers:

  • Menzies, R.M., Julien, A., Sharpe, L., Menzies, R. G., Helgadóttir, F.D. & Dar-Nimrod, I. (2023). Overcoming death anxiety: a phase I trial of an online CBT program in a clinical sample. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, Nov 24, 1-6.
  • Björnsdóttir, R.R., Helgadóttir, F.D. & Sighvatsson, M.B. (2022). Evaluating the Efficacy of an Internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Intervention for fertility stress in women: A Feasibility Study. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, Nov 24, 1-6.
  • Sigurðardóttir, S., Helgadóttir, F.D., Menzies, R.E., Sighvatsson, M.B. & Menzies, R.G. (2022). Improving adherence to a web-based cognitive-behavioural therapy program for social anxiety with group sessions: A randomised control trial Internet Interventions 28. (Open access).
  • Menzies, R.E., Sharpe, L., Helgadottir, F.D. , & Dar-Nimrod, I. (2021). Overcome Death Anxiety: The Development of an Online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Programme for Fears of Death. Behavior Change
  • McCall, H., Helgadottir, F., Menzies, R., Hadjistavropoulos, H., & Chen, F.S. (2019).Evaluating a Web-Based Social Anxiety Intervention Among Community Users: Analysis of Real-World Data. Journal of Medical Internet Research 21 (1). DOI: 10.2196/11566 (Open access).
  • Menzies, R., Packman, A., Onslow, M., O'Brian, S., Jones, M., & Helgadottir, F. D. (2019). In-Clinic and Standalone Internet Cognitive Behavior Therapy Treatment for Social Anxiety in Stuttering: A Randomized Trial of iGlebe. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 62 (6), 1614-1624.
  • Gunn, A., Menzies, R., Onslow, M., O'Brian, S., Packman, A., Lowe, R, Helgadottir, F.D., & Jones, M. (2019). Phase I trial of a standalone internet social anxiety treatment for adolescents who stutter: iBroadway.. International Journal of Language &smp; Communication Disorders 54 (6), 927-939.
  • Menzies, R., O'Brian, S., Packman, A., Jones, M., Helgadottir, F. D. & Onslow, M. (2019). Supplementing stuttering treatment with online CBT: An experimental trial. Journal of Communication Disorder, 80, 81-91
  • McCall, H., Richardson, C., Helgadottir, F., & Chen, F.S. (2018). Evaluating a web-based social anxiety intervention: a randomized controlled trial among university students. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20 (3). DOI: 10.2196/jmir.8630 (Open access).
  • Helgadottir, F. D., Menzies, R., Onslow, M., Packman, A. & O’Brian, S. (2014). A standalone Internet cognitive behavior therapy treatment for social anxiety in adults who stutter: CBTpsych. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 41, 47-54.
  • Helgadottir, F. D., Menzies, R., Onslow, M., Packman, A. & O’Brian, S. (2014). Safety behaviors in speech treatment for adults who stutter.. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 57, 1308-1313.
  • Helgadottir, F. D., Menzies, R., Onslow, M., Packman, A. & O’Brian, S. (2009a). Online CBT I: Bridging the gap between Eliza and modern online CBT treatment packages. Behaviour Change, 26 (4), 245-253. Cambridge Journal
  • Helgadottir, F. D., Menzies, R., Onslow, M., Packman, A. & O’Brian, S. (2009b). Online CBT II: A Phase I trial of a standalone, online CBT treatment program for social anxiety in stuttering. Behaviour Change, 26 (4), 254-270. Cambridge Journal
  • Helgadottir, F. D., (2010). Bridging the gap in internet treatments for mental health: A fully automated online cognitive behaviour therapy for social anxiety for those who stutter. Publisher: eScholarship Repository, The University of Sydney.

Fjola has also presented her research at peer reviewed conferences in the USA, UK, Australia, Europe and South America. A relevant blog post is Fjola's CBT World Congress talk on AI-Therapy in July, 2013