The Anxiety Disorder Game

The Anxiety Disorder Game

by Reid Wilson

Anxiety Disorder expert Reid Wilson, PhD, offers a unique twist on traditional cognitive-behavioral treatment of anxiety disorders. 

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The Anxiety Disorder Game

What causes someone to commit so strongly to the need to avoid doubt and distress?

Imagine a man standing in front of an audience and suddenly being unable to think clearly enough to speak his next sentence, finally stumbling through, putting a quick death to his speech and walking out of the room in humiliation. It would be expected that he would worry about how bad the next time might be, even envisioning himself in a repeat performance. Picture a woman on a bumpy flight, unexpectedly becoming terrified of deadly danger, and not being able to calm herself until the turbulence ended. It would be no surprise if she avoided future flights anytime the weather seemed less than ideal. Consider a father suffering from obsessive-compulsive images of choking his infant daughter. That graphic horror would compel any loving parent to avoid being alone with his child.
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Copyright © 2006. Psychotherapy in Australia. Reprinted with permission.
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Reid WilsonR. Reid Wilson, PhD is a licensed psychologist who directs the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center in Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina. He is also Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Wilson specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders and is the author of Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks (Harper Perennial, 1996), Facing Panic: Self-Help for People with Panic Attacks (Anxiety Disorders Association of America, 2003), and is co-author with Edna Foa of Stop Obsessing! How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions (Bantam, 2001). Wilson served on the Board of Directors of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America for twelve years and was Program Chair of the National Conferences on Anxiety Disorders from 1988-1991. In 2014 The Anxiety and Depression Association of America honored Wilson for a lifetime of service in treating anxiety disorders, awarding him the Jerilyn Ross Clinician Advocate Award at its annual conference in Chicago.

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it is parallel to the tibetan buddhist practice of tonglen where one breathe in suffering (of self and others) and breathes out healing. when i was in severe untreatable long-term nerve pain, the lamas instructed me to literally ask for more pain. i later--(still in the throes of severe anxiety/pain but considerably better)--felt resentful and confused about that instruction and dropped the practice because it seemed to make me a martyr. now i see the benefits from a fresh persepctive! and yet, beign aware of all the side roads and ins and and outs, i believe the anxiety and pain symptoms would find "go-arounds" or trump every strategy i do, like a torrent that will not be stopped. interesting stuff! wish there were more skilled and compassioante practioners!
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CE credits: 2
Learning objectives:

  • Describe key components of Wilson's work, including the cognitive-behavioral underpinnings of his theory and the ways in which he diverges from standard CBT therapies.
  • Apply key strategic and paradoxical interventions with anxious clients.
  • Identify commonalities among the anxiety disorders and apply techniques to help clients overcome resistance.
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