Today we recognize anxiety disorders as the most common mental health disorders and among the most treatable. It is easy to forget how far our views have come since the first phobia meeting was held in 1978 in White Plains, New York.
The clinicians and patients who attended the early phobia meetings discussed the need for a national organization to promote awareness of treatments for phobias. The new treatments, so-called contextual or exposure therapies, seemed promising.
By 1980 a small dedicated group had emerged to found the Phobia Society of America (PSA). The founders could only begin to imagine what impact unraveling the mysteries of anxiety would have in terms of diagnostic practice and future treatment options.
Even more remote was the dawn of the information age, when communications technology would provide patients and clinicians instant access to information from anywhere around the globe. This is the backdrop on which the last 30 years have developed.
Landmark research studies coupled with the organization’s advocacy moved the field forward. Breakthroughs in neuroscience brought anxiety to the forefront as a condition where transformative, translational, and evidence-based treatment would one day emerge.
Print, radio, television, and Internet media enthusiastically cover anxiety disorders and continue to raise awareness of their treatment today. ADAA’s website is accessed by millions, replacing handwritten notes and telep