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Death Anxiety: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach

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Over the years, there has been a considerable amount of psychological research focused on death anxiety. However, little attention has been given to clinical aspects of this problem. This paper focuses on a practical approach to assessment and treatment of death anxiety for the clinician. We discuss situations where it is wise to evaluate death anxiety and provide questions to address this topic in a sensitive manner. Death anxiety is clearly a central feature of health anxiety and may also play a significant role in other anxiety disorders. While there is very little specific research on treatment of fear of death, research on the anxiety disorders in general and health anxiety in particular has facilitated the development of an approach we have found useful in treating death anxiety. The main components of this treatment include exposure to feared themes related to death, reduction of safety behaviors, cognitive reappraisal, increased focus on life goals and life enjoyment, and relapse prevention.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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