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Understanding and treating Health Anxiety

Jonathan S. Abramowitz

3 Jul 2023


Health-related anxiety is a common psychological problem that can disrupt social, occupational, and emotional functioning. Because its symptoms (e.g., recurrent fears of diseases, preoccupation with “unexplained” body sensations, compulsive reassurance-seeking) are complex and highly personalized, conceptualization, assessment, and treatment can pose challenges to clinicians. In this workshop we will cover how to recognize the signs of health anxiety and accurately assess the features of this problem. In addition, you will learn a scientifically supported psychological conceptual model to help you make sense of the often complex symptom presentation. This model also leads to a an effective treatment approach, and we will cover how to develop a psychological treatment plan accordingly. Evidence-based treatment for health anxiety includes the use of psychoeducation, motivational interviewing techniques, cognitive restructuring, exposure, and response prevention; and these will be illustrated in detail. Challenges often encountered in treatment, such as arguments and motivational problems, will be reviewed; and methods for addressing such problems will be suggested.  The continuity of clinical practice with clinical science will be emphasized throughout the workshop.

The event will be equivalent to 5.1/2hrs of CPD.


This workshop will:
• Provide a description of the clinical features of health-related anxiety
• Place health anxiety within a broader context of psychopathology
• Provide a cognitive-behavioural model of health anxiety
• Explain the assessment of health anxiety
• Cover the following interventions for health anxiety: psychoeducation, motivational interviewing, cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and response prevention
• Consider common difficulties when treating individuals with health anxiety and how to troubleshoot them

Learning Objectives

You will learn:
• How to recognize health anxiety
• How to understand the psychopathology of health anxiety
• How to assess the symptoms of health anxiety based on a cognitive-behavioural conceptualization
• How to derive a case formulation from assessment data
• How to implement cognitive-behavioural interventions for health anxiety
• How to address common obstacles in the treatment of health anxiety

Training Modalities

Didactic content, experiential components, video demonstrations, Q&A.

Key References

Abramowitz, J. S., & Braddock, A. (2010). Hypochondriasis and health anxiety (Vol. 19). Hogrefe Publishing GmbH.
Abramowitz, J. S., Olatunji, B. O., & Deacon, B. J. (2007). Health anxiety, hypochondriasis, and the anxiety disorders. Behavior Therapy, 38(1), 86-94.
Asmundson, G. J., Abramowitz, J. S., Richter, A. A., & Whedon, M. (2010). Health anxiety: current perspectives and future directions. Current psychiatry reports, 12(4), 306-312.
Olatunji, B. O., Etzel, E. N., Tomarken, A. J., Ciesielski, B. G., & Deacon, B. (2011). The effects of safety behaviors on health anxiety: An experimental investigation. Behaviour research and therapy, 49(11), 719-728.
Salkovskis, P. M., Rimes, K. A., Warwick, H. M. C., & Clark, D. (2002). The Health Anxiety Inventory: development and validation of scales for the measurement of health anxiety and hypochondriasis. Psychological medicine, 32(5), 843-853.
Taylor, S., Asmundson, G. J., & Hyprochondria. (2004). Treating health anxiety: A cognitive-behavioral approach (Vol. 494, p. 495). New York: Guilford Press.

About the presenter

Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD is Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, and Director of the PhD training program in clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States. An internationally recognized expert on anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and cognitive-behavioural therapy, he has published over 300 research articles, books, and book chapters. Jonathan is a Past President of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) and the founding editor of the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. He is a regular workshop presenter and has received numerous awards for his contributions to the field.

Who should attend

This webinar is most suitable for practitioners delivering CBT interventions for patients with anxiety-related problems in outpatient settings.

Low Intensity clinical contact hours survey - BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group

Please click below if you are interested in contributing to the survey.


The BACP Low Intensity SIG are interested in the impact of clinical contact hours on Low Intensity/Wellbeing Practitioner wellbeing. This questionnaire contains six multi-choice questions and a free text box for you to share your experiences. The answers to these questions will help the BABCP SIG plan how to meet CPD topics and other developments within the SIG.  The SIG hope to produce a write up of the answers to this questionnaire to be shared with SIG members and to be used in training.

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This FREE conference is for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners working in Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression services and is brought to you by Bespoke Mental Health in collaboration with the NHS England Talking Therapies National PWP Leads Network

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