Transdiagnostic approaches to emotional disorders across the age range: A conversation between Professors David Barlow and John Weisz

Prof. David Barlow & Prof. John Weisz

Sunday, 5 June 2022


Professor David Barlow is world renowned for his work on the understanding and treatment of anxiety disorders. He pioneered the Unified Protocol for the Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders which is a radical departure from disorder-specific treatments of various emotional disorders and is designed to be applicable to all anxiety and unipolar disorders as well as other disorders with strong emotional components. Professor Barlow’s work has focused largely on adults, but similar ground-breaking transdiagnostic treatments have been developed for children and adolescents by Professor John Weisz. Most recently he has developed a treatment approach called FIRST, building on five core principles of evidence-based treatment for internalizing and externalizing problems. The goal of these transdiagnostic approaches is to help bridge the gap between the multiple treatments developed by researchers and those that are used in everyday clinical practice. Although friends and neighbours, Professors Weisz and Barlow have not held a public conversation comparing the similarities and differences between their different transdiagnostic approaches… until now.

The event will be equivalent to 1.1/2hrs of CPD.


The webinar will open with Professor Barlow explaining the rationale for, and structure of, the Unified Protocol for emotional disorders. This will be followed by Professor Weisz providing the rationale and structure for FIRST, thereby facilitating direct comparisons. Professors Barlow and Weisz will discuss what they see to be the similarities and differences between the Unified Protocol and FIRST approaches. Challenges and future directions for research and practice for each of the interventions will be discussed. The final 20 minutes of the webinar will be a Q&A session with the audience.

Learning Objectives

1. To understand the role of transdiagnostic treatment approaches in the treatment of anxiety disorders across the age range
2. To learn how transdiagnostic approaches can bridge the gap between research and practice
3. To compare the similarities and differences between the Unified Protocol and FIRST.
4. To consider challenges and future directions for research and practice for the Unified Protocol and FIRST

Training Modalities

The webinar will comprise didactic content, conversational discussion and Q&A. Polls may also be used.

Key References

Barlow, D. H., & Farchione, T. J. (Eds.). (2017). Applications of the unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders. Oxford University Press. Carlucci, L., Saggino, A., & Balsamo, M. (2021). On the efficacy of the unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 87.
Cho, E., Bearman, S. K., Woo, R., Weisz, J. R., & Hawley, K. M. (2020). A second and third look at FIRST: Testing adaptations of a principle-guided youth psychotherapy. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 1-14.
Weisz, J.R., Bearman, S.K., Santucci, L., & Jensen-Doss, A. (2017). Initial test of a principle-guided approach to transdiagnostic psychotherapy with children and adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 46(1), 44-58. DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2016.1163708.
Weisz, J. R., & Bearman, S. K. (2020). Principle-guided psychotherapy for children and adolescents: The FIRST program for behavioral and emotional problems. Guilford Publications.

About the presenter

David Barlow received his PhD from the University of Vermont in 1969 and has published over 650 articles and chapters and over 90 books and clinical manuals, mostly in the areas of anxiety and related emotional disorders, sexual problems, and clinical research methodology. He is formerly Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at Brown University and founded clinical psychology internships in both settings. He was also Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York and Director of the Phobia and Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the University at Albany, SUNY. He joined Boston University in 1996. He is Past-President of the Division of Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association, Past-President of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and was Chair of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Psychological Intervention Guidelines, as well as a member of the DSM-IV Task Force of the American Psychiatric Association. Clinical research at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University focuses on understanding the nature of anxiety and depression and developing new treatments for emotional disorders. Dr. Barlow also serves on the clinical advisory board for SilverCloud Health.
John Weisz’s research involves development and testing of interventions for youth mental health problems, as well as meta-analyses and systematic reviews characterizing and critiquing the science of youth mental health care. His most recent work involves development and testing of transdiagnostic approaches to youth psychotherapy, including treatment that uses modular design and treatment guided by a small number of broad principles of psychological change. He is especially interested in integrating evidence-based practices with strategies for personalizing treatment to fit individual youth and family characteristics. Weisz' meta-analyses provide a broad picture of the state of youth psychotherapy research and address specific questions about moderators of psychotherapy benefit. His books include Psychotherapy for children and adolescents: Evidence-based treatments and case examples (Cambridge University Press) and Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents (Co-edited with Alan Kazdin; Guilford Press). He served for eight years as President and CEO of the Judge Baker Children’s Center, Harvard Medical School. He is Past-President of the Division of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology of the American Psychological Association, and Past-President of the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology.

Who should attend

This unique event should be attended by anyone with an interest in the treatment of anxiety disorders across the age range, including clinicians, service managers and researchers.