Anxiety & Trauma Lab
At The University of La Verne

Anxiety & Related Disorders

Specific Phobia

​Specific phobias are defined as marked fear or anxiety that is specific to an object or situation.  Someone experiencing difficulty with a phobia may seek to actively avoid situations that will lead to them encountering the source of their anxiety and this avoidance can lead to social and occupational issues.  People with phobias experience fear an anxiety that are out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the object/situation they fear and this fear and avoidance causes significant impairment in their lives. Examples of specific phobias include arachnophobia (fear of spiders), agorophobia (fear of situations that might elicit fear, panic, or embarassment) and acrophobia (fear of heights).

​Social Anxiety

​People suffering from social anxiety feel fear or anxiety in social situations that may lead to the individual being scrutinized by others.  Social anxiety can be present in both children and adults and can present in a multitude of ways such as avoidence (staying home) as well as selective mutism in children.  Many people experience this anxiety when speaking or performing publicly and can therefore tend to avoid situations that would lead to this.
Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is defined by the experience of having recurrent panic attacks.  People experience panic attacks in different ways but may time the symptoms of panic attacks include, accelerated heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and shaking.  Panic attacks can be terrifying for the person experiencing them as people often feel that their life is in danger and may seek medical interventions if they do not recognize the symptoms.  The symptoms of a panic attack are quite distrssing and often lead to people avoiding situations that they fear might elicit a panic attack.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

People with GAD experience excessive worry and anxiety about any number of situations that occur in everyday life.  This may present as worry around social interactions, health,  work/school (etc.).  Some common symptoms  of GAD include feeling "on edge", fatigue, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, and difficulties sleeping.
Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is defined by two of the symptoms associated with it; Obsessions and Compulsions.   Obsessions are uncontrollable and reoccuring thoughts that lead to distress while compulsions are behaviors that the individual has urges to engage in, usually in an effort of combat the thoughts that are causing them the distress.

Empirically-Supported Treatment Options

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP)

Relaxation Training

Relaxation training can take many forms.  The goal is to help the individual reduce stress and anxiety in their lives through the use of mindfulness techniques such as yoga or meditation.   
Research has shown that CBT is effective in the treatment of many types of anxiety disorders.  CBT addressed both cognitive (C) and behavioral (B) aspects of anxiety by first examining negative thoughts or cognitions related to the anxiety and then examining and changing how one reacts in situations that trigger anxiety.
ERP is based off CBT and is designed to systematically desensitize the client to their fears.  This is done by working with the client to create a fear hierarchy and then approaching situations that illicit a fear response while learning to manage the urges and thoughts that arise more effectively until the trigger no longer illicits the problematic responses.