Ross Menzies





Treating death anxiety: Novel approaches to managing existential dread.

Although death anxiety can be associated with the development of productive coping strategies (eg. seeking achievement, extending the self through family and relationships), it may also drive crippling fear and maladaptive coping mechanisms.  As such, it has been argued that the dread of death is a transdiagnostic construct with the potential to underpin a range of mental health problems including panic disorder, illness anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, OCD, the specific phobias, separation anxiety disorder and depression.
If the dread of death is at the heart of various clinical presentations, treatment approaches which explicitly address these existential fears may be necessary.  Conventional treatments which fail to target death anxiety may result in a ‘revolving door’ of individuals presenting with a shifting array of mental illnesses across their lifespan.  Notably, recent research has reported relationships between fear of death and various markers of clinical severity, including overall distress, number of lifetime diagnoses and number of hospitalisations. This in-congress workshop will present a variety of innovative procedures to manage death anxiety that can be used in conjunction with standard CBT to provide a more comprehensive treatment of a range of mental health disorders.


Innovations in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Advances in our understanding of the nature and treatment of OCD will be explored in detail. The journey from mechanistic, habituation-based accounts of treatment to flexible, innovative, appraisal-based models will be explored. The role of inflated perceived responsibility, threat appraisal, intolerance to uncertainty and the need for control will be examined. Though Exposure and Ritual Prevention (ERP), in combination with cognitive therapy, remains the most popular approach to treatment, outcomes will be shown to be less than ideal. An overview of the Danger Ideation Reduction Therapy (DIRT) program will be given and possible directions for future treatment innovations will be offered. In particular, the potential importance of origin events, death issues, and emotion-based reasoning will be discussed.


CBT, anger and the personality disorders: Managing difficult interactions.

Cognitive behavior therapy involves challenging maladaptive thoughts, beliefs and attitudes as well as patterns of dysfunctional behaviours. This process can be confronting for many clients, who may have held entrenched negative beliefs over decades. Reframing events from the past and restructuring core beliefs can appear invalidating if not balanced with empathy and understanding, particularly in individuals with high levels of anger. These difficulties may arise in treating the Personality Disorders, conditions which involve overvalued negative beliefs about the nature of people, the world we live in, and the future. This master clinician session explores the problems involved in delivering high quality CBT in such populations.