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Changing the Anxious Mind, Rapidly: Advanced Training with Reid Wilson, Ph.D.

October 16, 2015, at the Tate-Turner-Kuralt Auditorium of the UNC School of Social Work, Chapel Hill, NC ||  Handouts: 3-per-page with note space  or printable Handouts (6 slides per page)

When: Friday, October 16, 2015, 9-3:30 pm, with a 1 hour lunch and 15 minute breaks

WhereUNC School of Social Work Auditorium, 325 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC   Directions and parking

CEUs 5 hours of credit

Fees:  $125. Early bird $100 before Oct 5.  (additional discounts for current UNC School of Social Work students, faculty, staff, field instructors, and task supervisors)
(additional $6 for category A credit)

Registration: online pre-registration    You may pre-register up until the day prior to the program.

Description: CBT is a first-line treatment for panic disorder, social anxiety, phobias and OCD. Yet despite its efficacy, it can require a substantial amount of client time, discomfort, and cost, which can lead to treatment refusal, dropouts and lack of engagement. Preliminary studies are now exploring the efficacy of briefer treatments for anxiety disorders and OCD. We will start with a short review of these results and on rapid gain, including published data on this model. Then we will explore a method of initiating treatment, which is engagement-oriented versus compliance-oriented, that encourages clients to adopt a simple yet paradoxical mindset that is manifest through provocative strategies after session 1 that generates positive change before session 2. 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 two different clients. First will be a woman with claustrophobia, panic attacks, and fear of flying and, second, 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 adopt a long-term self-help protocol to voluntarily, purposely and aggressively seek out and embrace uncertainty and anxiety moment-by-moment as their ticket out of suffering. 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.

Reid WilsonTrainer:  Reid Wilson, Ph.D is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine and directs the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center in Durham and Chapel Hill. Dr. Wilson has dedicated his 30-year career to developing self-help strategies for the anxiety disorders. He is the author or co-author of four self-help books, including Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks (Harper), Stop Obsessing!: How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions(Bantam), the newly-released Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children (HCI Books), and its free companion e-Book, Playing with Anxiety: Casey’s Guide for Teens and Kids. Dr. Wilson volunteers as the expert for WebMD’s Anxiety & Panic Community. His free self-help website – – serves 500,000 visitors per year. He designed and served as lead psychologist for American Airlines’ first national program for the fearful flier.  Dr. Wilson served on the Board of Directors of ADAA for 12 years and served as Program Chair of the National Conferences on Anxiety Disorders from 1988-1991. He has offered trainings throughout the world in the treatment of anxiety. Dr. Wilson has received the Jerilyn Ross Clinician Advocate Award for his outstanding advocacy for patient education and care, training, and research.

Handouts: All handouts for the event will be posted on the top of this event’s page.


Register Here


Learning Objectives: 

At the completion of this program, participants will be able to:

  1. Defend the importance of altering perception, as opposed to utilizing technique, to help clients with anxiety disorders.
  2. Guide a client in logically dismantling the common dysfunctional frames of reference of an anxiety disorder or OCD.
  3. Construct with a client a new, internally-consistent paradoxical frame of reference.
  4. Explain how to use reappraisal to activate “approach” emotions toward anxious uncertainty during exposure.
  5. Teach a client how to activate that new frame of reference moment-by-moment while engaging in threatening situations.
  6. Teach a client how to use both motivational and instructional self-talk cues to enhance exposure.


8:30 – 9:00 – Sign in

9:00 am – 10:30 am – The possibility of rapid gain in treatment; Detachment, paradox & frame of reference shift in generalized anxiety; The four strategies (Step back, Want it, Step forward, Be cunning); Framing up the action; The opening moves

10:30 – 10:45 – break

10:45 – 12:15 – Shifting the focus UP; Establishing the contract & addressing beliefs; Challenging distortions; The shoulder shrug & the hand wave; Interoceptive exposure; Moment-by-moment goals; Voluntarily choosing the experience: “I want this”

12:15 – 1:30 – lunch 

1:30 – 3:30 – Debriefing homework; Two forms of self-talk: motivation & commands; Establishing their new principles; Challenging safety behaviors; Elevating a competing emotion

How to access UNC wireless: info on connecting to wireless at UNC

Some references: 

Wilson, R.R.  (2009). Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks, 3rd Edition, New York: Harper.

Wilson, R., Neziroglu, F., Feinstein, B., & Ginsberg, R. (2014). A New Model for the Initiation of Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: An Exploratory Study, Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 3, 332-337.

Wilson, R. (2010) Playing with the Moment: A Frame Theory in Anxiety Treatment, In Burns, G.W. Happiness, Healing, Enhancement: Your Casebook Collection for Applying Positive Psychology in Therapy. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.



Transportation/ DirectionsThe most reliable place to park is in the UNC Hospital lot on Manning Drive. Parking fee is $1.50/ hour. The Carolina Inn next door on Pittsboro has space-available pay parking for a flat fee of $10/day. There are also numerous “park & ride” locations in Chapel Hill, with bus service to (or near) the School of Social Work. Directions.

Payment and refund policies:  No refunds. You may transfer your place to a colleague.  Or transfer credit toward a future program. Please contact Deborah Barrett, Ph.D., LCSW at or (919) 843-5818 to make arrangements, or if you have any other questions.

Information on Continuing Educational Credit:

Attendance Policy: – To receive credit, you must be present for the entire session, and you must sign the sign-in and sign-out sheets (for psychologists). No partial credit will be given. No credit will be given to participants who are more than 15 minutes late at the beginning of any session. No credit will be given to participants who leave before the close of a session. 

Additional questions? Contact Deborah Barrett, PhD, LCSW at or 919-843-5818