VOLUME 30, NUMBER 18              THURSDAY, JANUARY 28, 1999

Clinic offers treatment for anxiety

News Services Editor

 Anxiety disorders are extremely common in the U.S., affecting 23 million
 people each year. That's the bad news.

 The good news is that there are effective treatments for most of these
 problems. Even better news is that in Western New York, sufferers can
 receive treatment at reduced cost at UB's Anxiety Disorders Clinic, which
 conducts a doctoral training program in clinical psychology.

 The clinic was established in 1989 and currently trains between five and 10
 future clinical psychologists a year.

 Larry Hawk, assistant professor of psychology and director of the clinic, said
 there is a nationwide shortage of psychologists trained in the most current and
 most effective treatment methods for symptoms of anxiety.

 "Many therapists still employ the more traditional treatments that use
 long-term Freudian-based approaches whose effectiveness is hard to measure
 generally, and which have not proved to be particularly effective for anxiety,"
 he said.

 Hawk and Michael Raulin, clinical associate professor of psychology and
 founder of the clinic, train doctoral students in the treatment approach called
 cognitive behavior therapy, in which the therapist serves more as an educator
 and coach than an analyst.

 "Rather than search for the beginnings of the problem, cognitive behavioral
 treatment is more focused on the present," Hawk said. "We try to determine
 how the problem is affecting clients' lives right now and find ways to help them
 meet their immediate goals. The treatment is more active and collaborative
 than traditional methods, aimed at changing behavior, thought patterns and
 bodily responses associated with the problem.

 "This type of treatment has shown repeatedly to be very effective in people
 who have anxiety," Hawk said. "It's really rather remarkable."

 Anxiety disorders involve one or more of the following scenarios, which occur
 frequently over weeks or months, are excessive or irrational, and interfere
 with work, relationships or other aspects of life, Hawk said:

 - Intense fears of particular situation or objects, such as animals, injections,
 the sight of blood or social interactions

 - Excessive worry about general situations, such as health, money, family and

 - Repeated "panic attacks," or feelings of fear or terror that strike suddenly
 and repeatedly, often accompanied by racing heart, sweating, dizziness or
 choking sensations

 - Recurrent distressing intrusive thoughts or images, intense doubt or repetitive
 behaviors, such as checking or hand-washing, used to reduce anxiety

 - Intense fear or feelings of numbness following a traumatic experience.

 Treatment for these problems at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic is provided by
 doctoral students, supervised by Hawk and Raulin. Most of the treatments
 involve 12-16 sessions lasting one to two hours. Hawk noted that for persons
 without insurance or those with limited coverage, professional treatment for
 anxiety symptoms can be prohibitive. Treatment provided through the UB
 clinic is offered at a reduced fee because it is part of a doctoral training

 For more information about the clinic, call the Psychological Services Center
 at 645-3697.