VIDEO: Treating Anxiety

David Burns on the Paradox of Resistance

David Burns

According to therapist and renowned anxiety expert David Burns, the biggest barrier to treating anxiety successfully is recognizing how clients covertly hold on to their symptoms, even when it restricts their lives and causes them enormous distress.

Many clients believe that their anxiety serves a protective function, Burns says, and the discomfort of exposure work gives them compelling reasons to resist. 

But there is pathway to quick, meaningful, and lasting change, he adds. Here, he explains how he handles this resistance.

As Burns mentions, addressing the "perils" of change in the very first session allows the therapist to forge a special kind of collaborative alliance. The key, he says, is not starting treatment until the client is truly ready to begin.


David Burns, MD, is adjunct clinical professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Among his numerous awards is the A.E. Bennett Award for research on brain chemistry. He’s been named teacher of the year three times. His books include When Panic Attacks, Feeling Good, and his latest book, Feeling Great.

Topic: Anxiety/Depression | Mindfulness | Trauma

Tags: anxiety and depression | anxiety treatment | David Burns | depression | grief | learning | panic attacks | psychotherapy | resistance to counseling | resistance to therapy | therapists | therapy | best approaches for anxiety | free anxiety resources | free depression resources | resistance to anxiety treatment

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