Professor Paul Salkovskis delivers inaugural lecture on understanding and treating anxiety
12 July 2012
Professor Paul Salkovskis (Professor of Psychology) delivered an inaugural lecture entitled Understanding and treating anxiety: Making sense of the transition between a necessary emotion and an unnecessary disorder.
The lecture outlined advances in the treatment of anxiety disorders focusing in particular on the development of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is an approach that encourages the patient to change not only their behaviour but also the unhelpful thought patterns that serve to reinforce their anxiety.
Professor Salkovskis explained how anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and social phobia grow out of an exaggeration of normal thought patterns but that those with anxiety disorders often practice “safety behaviours” which prevent them from realising their fears are unfounded.
Research conducted by Professor Salkovskis with Professor David M Clark (Institute of Psychiatry, KCL) looked at developing effective therapies. They demonstrated that repeatedly exposing a subject to a situation that triggers their anxiety is effective but that combining this with a cognitive approach, i.e. encouraging the subject to challenge the way they think about threatening situations, gives better long-term outcomes than exposure alone.
Professor Salkovskis is now turning his research focus to how anxiety disorders might be diagnosed earlier and even prevented, for example by targeting at-risk groups. He is also looking at how CBT might be applied more widely, for example in the treatment of patients with chronic pain or in the early stages of dementia.
You can listen to this lecture online.