Changing the Anxious Mind — Rapidly

Thursday, April 6

9:30 am – 5:00 pm

6 CE or CME

Ticketed event (lunch on your own): 

Reid Wilson, PhDReid Wilson, PhD

Director, Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center
Chapel Hill, North Carolina     
Fellow, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT)
Founding Clinical Fellow, Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

This workshop will outline and demonstrate a rapid-gain treatment model for panic disorder, social anxiety, phobias, and OCD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a first-line treatment for the anxiety disorders and OCD. Yet it can require a substantial amount of time, discomfort, and cost for the client, which can lead to treatment refusal, dropouts, and lack of engagement. Preliminary studies are now pointing to the efficacy of briefer treatments and rapid gain, including published data on this model.

We will explore a method of initiating treatment that is engagement-oriented versus compliance-oriented and that encourages clients to adopt a simple yet paradoxical mindset that is manifest through provocative strategies that are arousal-congruent. We will outline the treatment strategy step-by-step and illustrate each stage with brief, professionally videotaped segments of therapist-client interaction in the first two sessions of treatment with three different clients.

First will be two brief segments with a GAD client; followed by a woman with claustrophobia, panic attacks, and fear of flying; and third, a man with severe OCD. The treatment protocol—built out of whole cloth within the first session—directs the entire therapy process. The principal goal is to induce clients to voluntarily, purposely, and aggressively seek out and embrace uncertainty and anxiety moment-by-moment as their ticket out of suffering. After successful behavioral experiments, the second goal of this intervention is to enable clients to adopt a long-term self-help protocol to respond to moment-by-moment doubt and distress. Attention will focus on how the clinician presents the paradigm in a manner persuasive enough to counter the dread of symptoms and their feared consequences.


1.    Guide a client in logically dismantling the common dysfunctional frames of reference of an anxiety disorder or OCD.
2.    Construct with a client a new, internally consistent paradoxical frame of reference.
3.    Teach a client how to activate that new frame of reference moment-by-moment while approaching and engaging in threatening situations.