A Deeper Look

What is the Pressman Method for Deconstructing Anxiety? Here is a deeper look:

There are many psychotherapy approaches for anxiety disorders that have shown to be effective (Bandelow et al., 2015), with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) generally better than other approaches (van Dis et al., 2020). The Deconstructing Anxiety model is a new synthesis of evidence-based techniques, highlighting the common themes that have been empirically demonstrated as most helpful.


This model teaches clinicians how to identify the root causes of anxiety, rather than addressing more superficial layers of the problem.


Employing CBT, psychodynamic, mindfulness and positive psychology approaches, this model aims to address the resistances that keep anxiety alive, and transform them into a sense of purpose, meaning and fulfillment.


The program presents a method for discovering the single “core fear” (i.e., “schema” in CBT) at the root of all anxiety, helping clients find this core fear when they appropriately deconstruct a problem. Core fears have been proposed for social phobia (Moscovitch, 2009) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (Gillihan et al., 2012) and are viewed as necessary to address for treatment to be effective. Psychodynamic theory postulates that we develop our primary defenses to protect ourselves from these fears, but always at a great cost. This leaves us constantly holding vigil, on the lookout for the resurfacing of the threat. When this process spins out of control, an anxiety disorder develops.


Various approaches are offered to address the anxiety disorder based on the clinician’s assessment, and include an emphasis on exposure therapy (CBT), as well as mindfulness, and a process for taking actions toward a positive future (learned optimism) to enhance “flourishing” and establish “flow.”


Seminar participants will learn how to use different evidence-based approaches to treat anxiety under this framework.


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