Workbook co-authored by UH psychologist offers self-help for those suffering anxieties

December 02, 2008

Whether it's a fear of flying, worries over the economy, stage fright or nervousness in crowds, anxieties are a daily obstacle for millions of Americans.

As director of the University of Houston's Anxiety Disorders Clinic, Peter Norton researches anxiety disorders and helps people overcome them. Now, his insight is presented in a new book focused on teaching people how to self-treat their anxieties and phobias.

Along with Martin Antony, psychology professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, Norton has co-authored "The Anti-Anxiety Workbook" (Guilford Press).

"This book was written as a 'self-help' book," said Norton, UH associate professor of psychology. "It leads people through comprehensive self-assessments to determine their symptoms, diagnoses and the steps that will effectively help them."

In providing readers with the know-how necessary to address their anxiety disorders, Norton and Antony focus on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which promotes self-support during moments of fear or distress.

CBT also concentrates on the interaction between how people think, feel and act.

"This therapy also addresses and delicately challenges thoughts and assumptions that underline certain fears," Norton said. "Ultimately, the treatment exposes people bit by bit to their areas of fear to ease them into a sense of comfort."

CBT is the principal therapy employed at UH's Anxiety Disorders Clinic. Norton said this workbook enables readers to apply the center's same methods without the guidance of a therapist or can be used in conjunction with professional treatment. It also can be used as a practical guide for new clinicians or psychologists in training.

In addition to CBT, the workbook also takes the reader through relaxation methods and lifestyle factors that can impact one's recovery from an anxiety disorder.

"The lifestyle chapter focuses on topics such as exercise, diet, and alcohol and drug use," Norton said. "These are all factors that can either promote or prohibit recovery."

Another chapter in the workbook details how friends and family can effectively support those suffering from anxiety disorders.
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"The Anti-Anxiety Workbook" can be purchased through the Guilford Press Web site www.guilford.com. The site also offers more details on the book, as well as excerpts.

Norton's research on anxiety and its treatment has been recognized with awards from the National Institutes of Health and other organizations. In 2006, he became the first UH professor to receive the National Institute of Mental Health's Mentored Research Scientist Development Award. He has authored more than 60 research papers and delivered a host of presentations and workshops for the scientific community, therapists and the general public.

Led by Norton, UH's Anxiety Disorders Clinic serves three primary purposes: providing low-cost state-of-the-art cognitive-behavioral therapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders; conducting research to better understand anxiety disorders and improve their treatment; and training graduate students to deliver the most powerful treatments for anxiety disorders. This specialty treatment and research clinic is housed within the University of Houston's Psychological Research and Services Center at 4505 Cullen Blvd. For additional information on the clinic, visit www.uh.edu/prsc/.

Co-author Antony is president-elect of the Canadian Psychological Association and is the director of research at the Anxiety Treatment and Research Centre at St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario. He is an award-winning researcher and co-author of several books including "When Perfect Isn't Good Enough." His research, writing and clinical practice focus on CBT and the treatment of anxiety disorders.

University of Houston

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