The Contrast Avoidance Model (CAM) of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) was developed to conceptualize processes that motivate and maintain chronic worry (Llera & Newman, 2011). Having observed that many clients struggle to let go of their chronic worries (despite myriad negative consequences), Drs. Llera and Newman proposed a perceived positive function of sustained worry – to avoid emotional contrasts. According to the CAM, those with GAD fear the sudden surge in negative emotion that naturally follows a negative event. By sustaining worry, they embrace a prolonged negative emotional stance (preparedness), thus averting a sudden internal shift in the face of a negative event. Despite the temporary relief, such a strategy is purported to have devastating long-term consequences, including emotional, functional, and health-related impairment.
Given that worry is a transdiagnostic experience, the perspective of the CAM may apply across anxiety and mood disorders. We will discuss ways to approach this perspective with clients, helping them identify this pattern of thinking in their own lives, as well as to identify its negative consequences. Further, we will discuss strategies for using exposure techniques to help clients experience emotional shifts (contrasts) with less fear.
Attendees please read in advance Newman & Llera (2011) - it can be downloaded here:
What makes this a mindful journal club? We will practice guided relational mindfulness as we contemplate the below CE objective. A brief opening practice will be offered to support dialogue that is anchored in mindful relating that is grounded intentionally in the CE objective below to support focus on the CAM of GAD and its clinical applications. Mindful CE Journal clubs implement the Mindful & Compassionate Case Contemplation (MCC) approach developed by Molnar and her colleagues (2014).
CE Learning Objectives
Following this presentation, participants will be able to:
· Describe the CAM of GAD and some of its implications for exposure therapy and behavioral experiments with clients meeting diagnostic criteria for GAD and related conditions.
About Dr. Llera
Dr. Sandra Llera is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Towson University, and the director of the Llera Laboratory for Emotion Regulation and Anxiety Research. She received her Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University in 2011 and joined Towson University in 2012. Dr. Llera’s dissertation focused on the emotional sequelae of chronic worry in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). She completed her clinical internship at the University of Virginia counseling center. Dr. Llera’s current research focuses on exploring factors underlying the etiology and maintenance of anxiety and mood disorders, with an emphasis on understanding the role of emotional dysregulation in these processes.
This presentation is intended for licensed mental health professionals and advanced graduate student trainees seeking licensure and with some clinical experience. The instructional level of this presentation is intermediate.
Note: This workshop does not require attendees to have a formal mindfulness practice.
- Philadelphia Behavior Therapy Association is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Philadelphia Behavior Therapy Association maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
- This program provides one (1) hour of CE credits.
- PBTA is also an authorized provider of CE credits for Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Clinical Social Workers licensed in the state of Pennsylvania.
- Full attendance with video display is required to obtain CE credit for this program. APA guidelines do not permit PBTA to issue partial CE credits. No refunds are provided for CE programs. No exceptions allowed.