Exposure Therapy for Phobias
by Reid Wilson
In these live sessions with a real patient, Reid Wilson demonstrates Exposure Therapy in action, offering a frame of reference that clinicians can begin to apply immediately.


Part of the 6-video series: Strategic Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Decades of research have shown that exposure therapy is by far the most effective way to get long-lasting results in the treatment of specific phobias, but most therapists have never had a chance to see exposure therapy in action, let alone be trained in it. Here, prominent anxiety expert Reid Wilson shows you how it’s done, as he conducts two remarkable sessions with a woman suffering from claustrophobia.

Mary loves to travel, but dreads airplanes. In fact, any enclosed space where she feels trapped triggers her fear of suffocation, so she spends much of her time avoiding parking structures, elevators, and coping with panic attacks when avoidance is impossible. With conviction and humor, Wilson engages Mary in two transformational sessions, based on the paradoxical principle that moving towards that which she fears holds the key to her freedom.

Wilson leads Mary through several experiments which give her the opportunity to face her fears of both suffocation and restriction. From breathing with a nose plug on, to sliding a pillow case over her head and sealing it with packing tape, and finally to climbing into a large cardboard box, Mary courageously confronts layers of terror, gradually shifting her point of view from “I can’t handle this” to “I want this fear and I can handle it.” With Wilson’s constant support and encouragement, Mary makes an incredible amount of progress in only two sessions, demonstrating how powerful these tools really are.

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What therapists are saying…

"Reid Wilson provides an extraordinary insight into the process of exposure therapy for phobias. Observing him implement exposure therapy is beautifully complemented by his explanation of what he is aiming to achieve each step of the way. This video provides a rare look into the mechanisms of exposure as it is unfolding. It is an invaluable teaching tool."

-- Michelle  G. Craske, PhD, Director, Anxiety Disorders Research Center, UCLA.
"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
"This outstanding video demonstrates exposure-based treatment for an individual with claustrophobia. Dr. Wilson is an effective therapist who successfully encourages his client to face her fears, resulting in noticeable improvement in just two sessions. I strongly recommend this to anyone who treats individuals with phobic disorders, including both students and seasoned clinicians!"

-- Martin M. Antony, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Ryerson University; Author, The Anti-Anxiety Workbook
"The video is a vivid example on how you may teach effective therapy techniques to a client with claustrophobia,
especially cognitive behavioral ones, in order to help her achieve important results in therapy and increase her quality of life. Dr. Wilson empowers the client to use the techniques he explained also outside the therapist’s office, offering Mary the wonderful opportunity to decrease the anti-anxiety medication to the point of complete cessation or extremely rare, occasional use...a rich resource for trainee therapists who have not come across a phobia case in their practice and have not had the chance to use exposure therapy."

--Beatrice Popescu, Review published in Europe's Review of Psychology
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After watching these two remarkable sessions with a woman who is afraid of flying, you’ll surely be wondering, “Well, how did the flight go?” (She was leaving for a flight right after her second session with Wilson). Without giving too much away, we’re pleased to report that the work she did with Wilson in these two sessions made a huge difference, and she updated us that she managed without medication, didn’t feel nearly as much panic as she usually does, and she was able to talk herself down fairly quickly when anxiety arose. She also shared that she was amazed by her progress and all that she was able to do. Pretty impressive for just two sessions! Once you see Wilson in action, you’ll understand how to help your own clients make similar progress with their phobias.  

By watching this video you will:
  • Learn the core concepts of Wilson’s approach to treating phobias.
  • Understand how to conduct a highly focused assessment.
  • Identify tools for facilitating habituation through exposure therapy techniques.

Length of video: 2:57:00

Number of Discs: 1

English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD

This DVD plays in All Regions

Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-326-X

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-327-8

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 phobias
  • Understand how to conduct a highly focused assessment
  • Identify tools for facilitating habituation through exposure therapy techniques.
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