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Saturday, April 11 • 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Targeting Areas of the Brain for Change: Techniques for Assessing Sources of Anxiety in the Brain

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Treatment professionals of all disciplines need to keep abreast of the emerging science on the neuropsychology of anxiety disorders. As research begins to clarify areas of the brain that underlie various anxiety disorders and symptomatology, physicians and therapists need to know how to convey to clients that, depending on the source of the anxiety symptoms in the brain, different strategies are more effective in managing anxiety. When anxiety symptoms begin in the amygdala, which is more common in PTSD, panic disorder, and phobias, different approaches are required than when anxiety difficulties originate in the cortex, which is more common in social anxiety, OCD, and generalized anxiety disorder. Brief surveys that help clients assess and understand what area of the brain is initiating specific anxiety symptoms are provided, and case studies are used to illustrate concepts.Treatment adherence improves when clients are given understandable information about the brain-based source of their difficulties, and empowered to modify these areas of the brain. Individuals suffering from cortex-related symptoms, such as obsessions, perfectionism, and chronic worry, benefit from treatment that encourages them to “Question Your Cortex.” They can be encouraged to identify anxiety-igniting thoughts in the cortex, and use cognitive restructuring methods, in order to take advantage of the neuroplasticity of the cortex and modify these thoughts. On the other hand, when anxiety symptoms are frequently arising from the amygdala, cortex-based interventions are not effective at reducing or managing anxiety. For these symptoms, the importance of interventions that directly impact the amygdala is stressed, and evidence will be provided for a variety of interventions shown to directly reduce amygdala activation. The majority of clients benefit from a carefully chosen combination of cortex-focused and amygdala-focused interventions, but the rationale provided for the interventions, and the order in which interventions are initiated, can vary, depending on the disorder and the individual client. The role of medications, and how they relate to the source of anxiety symptoms will also be discussed. Attendees will be encouraged to provide their own case examples for group discussion.


Saturday April 11, 2015 4:30pm - 6:00pm EDT
Merrick II (3rd Floor)

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