Full course description
This course covers the main findings and controversies related to anxiety disorders. Both new treatment issues are dealt with as well as psychological mechanisms that are involved in the origin and maintenance of the various anxiety disorders.
In industrialised countries (USA, Canada and Western Europe), anxiety disorders are the largest group of mental disorders for which patients are referred, and without appropriate treatment the natural course is often chronic. Luckily, anxiety disorders are relatively well studied and understood, and the outcome of treatment is relatively favourable. Students will first learn what the features of normal and pathological anxiety are. As regards the aetiology of anxiety disorders, the focus will be on the role of social (life events), biological, conditioning and information processing factors. With regard to the maintenance of the disorders, the course concentrates first of all on the cognitive-behavioral model of anxiety disorder. On one hand students will study the cognitive maintaining mechanisms such as selective processing as it relates to perception, attention, memory, and interpretation behavior. On the other hand, students study learning theory which involves the maintaining role of ‘safety behaviours’, which are attempts to prevent a feared catastrophe, with the ironic effect that anxiety is reinforced. Moreover, the role of imagery in anxiety disorders is studied. With regard to treatment techniques knowlegde will be updated with recent insights of the working mechanisms of exposure and developments in new treatment techniques such as EMDR, imagery rescripting and cognitive bias modification (CBM).
Students will be able to understand:
- current theories of anxiety disorders;
- normal-abnormal anxiety distinction;
- classification of anxiety disorders;
- maintenance processes of anxiety disorders;
- current treatment approaches.