Category: Treatment - CBT

Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion 25 - Prevent or Permit? The Issue of Safety Behavior Use During Exposure Therapy for Anxiety

Sunday, November 19
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom C & D, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Anxiety | Exposure | Cognitive Therapy
Presentation Type: Panel Discussion

Within the context of clinical anxiety, safety behaviors are unnecessary overt or covert actions performed to prevent feared outcomes and/or reduce associated distress.Traditionally, exposure therapy for anxiety and related disorders includes response prevention (i.e., eliminating safety behaviors as soon as possible). This is because safety behaviors are believed to interfere with the natural extinction of anxiety as well as the cognitive change that is thought to occur during exposure. Citing high rates of dropout from exposure therapy, some experts have recently advocated for the judicious use of safety behaviors (i.e., the strategic incorporation of safety behaviors at the earlier/more challenging parts of treatment). Advocates of this approach emphasize the potential for safety behaviors to make exposure more tolerable, and therefore more effective. Debate in this area is ongoing and research findings are mixed. In this panel, five international experts in exposure therapy will discuss the rationale for and against permitting safety behaviors during exposure. Specifically, among other topics, this panel will (a) define the “judicious use” of safety behaviors during exposure and illustrate its implementation in practice, (b) identify which safety behaviors might be incorporated into exposure and why, (c) highlight the instances in which safety behaviors would be detrimental to treatment outcome and why, and (d) offer clinical and research recommendations based on available research findings. The moderator will also invite questions from the audience to stimulate panel discussion.

Learning Objectives:

Jonathan S. Abramowitz

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Brett J. Deacon

Director
Illawarra Anxiety Clinic

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Send Email for David Tolin

Adam S. Radomsky

Professor and Research Chair in Anxiety and Related Disorders
Concordia University

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Shannon M. Blakey

Doctoral Candidate
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Shannon Blakey, M.S., is a Clinical Psychology Doctoral Candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research centers on the cognitive and behavioral mechanisms involved in the maintenance and treatment of anxiety and related disorders. She also trains and supervises graduate students, post-baccalaureate research assistants, and undergraduate students in the assessment, treatment, and study of psychopathology. Ms. Blakey publishes research on the maintenance and treatment of anxiety disorders in peer-reviewed journals and is a regular presenter at ABCT conventions.

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