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Now anxious people can help themselves

28 Jun 2007

People suffering from anxiety disorders can help themselves using approaches based on cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT), according to a new book by a University of Manchester psychologist.

Dr Warren Mansell spent over a decade studying cognitive behavioural approaches to psychological problems before writing Coping with Fears and Phobias - a Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Facing your Anxieties.  He now believes that with the right guidance people can apply techniques from CBT at home, and possibly avoid long NHS waiting lists to see therapists.

Anxiety disorders affect around 20% of the UK population, and can lead to addictions, self-harm and inability to work or interact with others.  Cognitive ('how you think') behavioural ('what you do') therapies approach them by looking at how people think about themselves and the world, and how their actions affect their thoughts and feelings.
Dr Mansell said: "Cognitive behavioural therapies focus on a person's current problems and difficulties, and look for ways to improve their state of mind now.  With the right guidance this is something that people can work on without a therapist, enabling the approach to help far greater numbers of people."

The approach described in the book was developed after gathering detailed feedback on existing self-help books from service users with anxiety problems, and incorporates the most recent advances in CBT.  It has already been endorsed by leading figures including Dr Daniel Freeman of the Institute of Psychiatry and US psychologist Dr Bob Leahy (author of the bestselling The Worry Cure), and all 50 of a sample who read a pre-published edition said it helped them cope better with their fears, anxiety and phobias. 

Dr Mansell continued: "Fear is a normal emotion that we all experience at times, but when it leads to phobias, panic and worry it can have a huge impact.  But people can learn to cope better with their anxieties, and often overcome them completely, by developing helpful strategies and learning to accept uncertainties."

The book incorporates cognitive explanations of how anxiety problems develop and continue, and guidance on how to manage them differently.  It offers a step-by-step way to understand anxiety, prepare for change, face fears and build on strengths and values; and each chapter ends with a self-check enabling readers to see if they have taken the information on board.

The book takes a 'transdiagnostic' approach, suggesting that whatever the source, diagnosis and severity of a person's problems, and whatever other mental health problems they may have experienced, a similar approach can be taken to coping with their anxiety. This is illustrated by the stories of five people suffering from very different fears who have learned to cope better and realise their goals.

According to Clinical Psychologist and Senior Lecturer Dr Daniel Freeman: "This book is impressively clear, comprehensive, and practical - a treasure for those who wish to understand and treat their anxiety."

For further information please contact:
Mikaela Sitford: 0161 275 2111/

Review copies of the book are available by contacting:

Notes for Editors

Coping with Fears and Phobias - a Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Facing your Anxieties by Dr Warren Mansell is published on 12 July 2007 by One World Publications.  It is part of the 'Coping with' series, which was created and is edited by The University of Manchester's Dr Steven Jones (Reader in Clinical Psychology).

The book can also be used by carers and therapists working with people with anxiety disorders.

An interactive website will be launched in September by to guide readers through the book's steps, and enable people with anxiety-related problems to communicate with and motivate one another. 

What readers of a pre-published edition of the book said:

"It shows that anxiety is normal."
"It helped me to understand that I'm not alone."
"It helped me to understand the physiological causes of anxiety and to manage it better."
"The case examples, diagrams, tables are very comprehensive and easy to read."
"The 10-step plan for facing your fears was well set out and comprehensive."
"The exercises were well thought out and practical."
"The analogies for coping with anxiety were helpful."
"The examples of other people gave a realistic approach on what to achieve."
"The author uses very encouraging language."
"The book let me stay in control."

What peers in the field say:

"Coping with Fears and Phobias by leading psychologist Warren Mansell is an excellent guide to helping yourself deal with all of those anxieties that you have. Written in clear, concise language, Mansell helps you understand why you are so fearful and exactly what you can do about it. It's so helpful that this book is written by someone with such a strong scientific background--- but it's also useful that it is written with such care, compassion and practicality. I highly recommend this valuable, thoughtful and exceptionally helpful book." - Dr Robert L. Leahy — Director, American Institute for Cognitive Therapy
"Warren Mansell draws on a wealth of clinical experience to present an admirable combination of well-validated scientific strategies and a common-sense approach in his 10-step plan to coping with fears and phobias." - James Bennett-Levy, Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre, University of Oxford

"Dr. Mansell, who is internationally recognised for his research on fear and anxiety, provides a lucid, practical and realistic guide for those wishing to better understand and cope with their fears." Allison G. Harvey, Director, Sleep and Psychological Disorders Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley

Dr Warren Mansell is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist and a Lecturer in Psychology at The University of Manchester (UK). He is committed to drawing out the most effective features of psychotherapies across a wide range of problems, and disseminating these methods and principles to a wider audience.     

He has authored two previous books: Cognitive Behavioural Processes across Psychological Disorders: a Transdiagnostic Approach to Research and Treatment (co-authored with Allison Harvey, Ed Watkins & Roz Shafran), and A Bluffer's Guide to Psychology.

The University of Manchester ( is the largest higher education institution in the country, with 24 academic schools and over 36,000 students.  Its Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences ( is one of the largest faculties of clinical and health sciences in Europe, with a research income of around £51 million (almost a third of the University's total research income).

The School of Psychological Sciences ( was founded in 2004, and comprises the oldest Psychology department in the UK together with Human Communication and Deafness and Clinical Psychology divisions.  All were rated 5/5 in the last higher education Research Assessment Exercise.