Cognitive Therapy for Obsessions
by Reid Wilson
In these live sessions with a patient suffering from obsessive thinking, Reid Wilson demonstrates tools and techniques of cognitive therapy that clinicians can begin to apply immediately.

Part of the 6-video series: Strategic Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Stopping obsessional thinking patterns is one of the most vexing challenges people deal with, and most therapists are equally mystified about how to really help their clients free themselves from the torture of fearful thoughts. Here, notable anxiety disorder expert Reid Wilson employs a variation of cognitive-behavioral and strategic methods in two live sessions, demonstrating his unique approach to tackling obsessive thinking.

Rita, a middle-aged mother, is plagued with anxiety about her health. Obsessed with what might be wrong with her, she spends much of her time seeking reassurance that she’s okay, from repeated internet searches to excessive doctors’ visits. Trying to avoid anything that triggers her fear of having a heart attack, Rita is missing out on living the active lifestyle she longs to live and barely enjoys time with her family and friends.

In two sessions with Rita, Wilson demonstrates the core concepts underlying his paradoxical approach to treating anxiety disorders. With humor, compassion, and clarity, he passionately encourages Rita to rise above the content of her obsessive thoughts and practice moving towards that which she fears, supporting her in learning to tolerate uncertainty. Calling on her courage, he helps her to dramatically alter her relationship to the anxiety.

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What therapists are saying…

"Reid Wilson is an inspiring teacher and a pioneer in the development of self help approaches for anxiety disorder. He is a highly skilled therapist with a wealth of experience. This example of brief treatment of a woman with obsessions and compulsions around fears of illness provides insightful approaches to this challenging problem. Both experienced and developing therapists will enjoy the opportunity to watch and hear about Dr. Wilson's therapeutic approach."

-- John R. Walker, PhD, Director, Anxiety Disorders Clinic, University of Manitoba; Coauthor of Treating Health Anxiety
"This is a unique opportunity to look behind the scene at how one of the pioneers in the field of anxiety treatment actually goes about doing therapy. You will be able to understand the principles behind how he makes choices from moment to moment as he actively pushes his patients to relate to their inner experience with an entirely different attitude. Even if you learned CBT for anxiety disorders years ago and have been seeing obsessive patients all along, you will see why this particular innovation is a breakthrough."

-- Sally Winston, PsyD, Co-Director, Anxiety and Stress Disorders Clinic of Maryland
"Wilson may have outdone himself, even though he has demonstrated his brilliance in the past, because in this video viewers can more easily understand what he is doing. I loved watching Wilson’s gentle insistence that in order to overcome OCD, she might have to tolerate a certain amount of unpleasant feelings. His pacing, leading, and reframing, intermixed with insightful prodding questions, facts, and positive associations, helped her to think, feel, and act differently. I am a fan of both Yalom and Wilson. They have done an excellent job on this video and deserve much recognition. I recommend it for anyone working with OCD clients, or those with anxiety. You will learn orientations that will be useful. I certainly did, and am most appreciative of the opportunity."

-- John D. Lentz, D. Min, reviewed in The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter
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With humor, compassion and impressive persistence, Wilson masterfully helps Rita do a 180 when it comes to how she’s approaching her health anxiety. Challenging conventional wisdom about how to get better, Wilson’s paradoxical approach to change is reminiscent of Buddhist teachings that talk about suffering coming from resistance. Urging her to want her symptoms as opposed to trying to get rid of them, he turns everything upside down, making for a fascinating and refreshing approach to anxiety disorders in particular and life in general.

While kind and patient, Wilson is at times somewhat pushy and aggressive. On this aspect of his approach he says: “This method can be challenging to therapists who work in a less directive, more client-centered way. But these clients are really stuck in a faulty belief system. If we aren’t aggressive in our tactics, then we are going to be at the work for a long time.”

If you’re looking for a way to really make some inroads with your clients with anxiety disorders in a short period of time, this video is definitely for you.

By watching this video, you will:
  • Learn the core concepts of Wilson’s approach to treating anxiety disorders.
  • Understand how to conduct a highly focused assessment.
  • Identify tools for helping clients increase their tolerance of uncertainty and discomfort

Length of video: 02:44:00

Number of Discs: 1

English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD

This DVD plays in All Regions

Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-328-6

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-329-4

R. 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.

See all Reid Wilson videos.

CE credits: 3

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the core concepts of Wilson’s approach to treating anxiety disorders.
  • Understand how to conduct a highly focused assessment.
  • Identify tools for helping clients increase their tolerance of uncertainty and discomfort
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