Cognitive Therapy for Obsessions
by Reid Wilson, PhD
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.
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. 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.
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
Note: This DVD is licensed on for personal viewing. If you wish to use this video for teaching or training purposes, or you wish to view this video via Instant Streaming, you may order these formats at http://www.psychotherapy.net/learning-centers/expert/reid-wilson
“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