The Claire Weekes Approach for anxiety related conditions

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rustyrebecca
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The Claire Weekes Approach for anxiety related conditions

Post by rustyrebecca » Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:36 pm

I was involved in a discussion at work with several clinical psychologists and mentioned about the Claire Weekes approach to anxiety. This is all about 100% acceptance of fear, no resistance, facing and floating, and that once a patient becomes aware that they can panic and nothing horrendous happens, they will lose their fear of fear. However, the psychologists didn't rate the approach. They said that for many with panic disorder in particular, the trauma of the panic is a memory that can't be overcome this way and that many patient's illnesses are too complex to be treated with such a simplified approach. Plus, there are no (or limited, not sure) empirical studies to show that such an approach has any efficacy.
I read Claire Weekes books back in the eighties, when I myself was suffering from anxiety and agoraphobia. I admittedly didn't find them helpful as I just couldn't (at the time) float with the terrifying symptoms. Yet, through my research, I am now reading of many people who have overcome panic and agoraphobia through only using this approach and nothing else. So, even with agoraphobia, not using exposure therapy as such but instead just getting used to wherever they are and allowing the panic to come to them and to not resist, not add the 'second fear'.
However, there are also some patients who feel that because they can't accept how they feel, they feel they are a failure, as if they aren't brave enough.
Does anyone believe this approach has any merit? It is a one size fits all approach.

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maven
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Re: The Claire Weekes Approach for anxiety related conditions

Post by maven » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:28 am

Just because some people report something worked for them doesn't mean that it is an effective treatment. Some people believe in homeopathy, but it simply isn't possible that it works beyond placebo effects. My standards for evidence are higher than anecdotal reports, and IMO people who don't evaluate and publish shouldn't make claims of efficacy.
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rustyrebecca
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Re: The Claire Weekes Approach for anxiety related conditions

Post by rustyrebecca » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:54 am

Maven, I was actually referring more so to many people who have recovered from anxiety using Claire Weekes approach and I don't think that can be just sniffed at.
A post I wrote before mirrored exactly what you have said when I was mentioning BWRT whereby so called therapists are making ridiculous claims of a cure for a whole host of mental health conditions with no studies at all to support their claims.
However, this is a little different. Have you read any of Claire Weekes' books? Her technique has been so successful that it actually forms a major component of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and that does claim efficacy. Clare Weekes was a pioneer in the treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia, and the cognitive and behavioural techniques she developed throughout her career were so radically successful that she was even nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their development.
So I am curious why some clinical psychologists are not more aware of her, as they really should be.

lingua_franca
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Re: The Claire Weekes Approach for anxiety related conditions

Post by lingua_franca » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:20 pm

If aspects of Weekes's approach are embedded in ACT (and I don't know much about ACT, but I think it's possible that other psychologists might have arrived at the idea of acceptance independently) then it already is being widely used and practitioner psychologists are aware of these techniques. I don't think it's realistic expect every psychologists to know every researcher by name - there are thousands of them out there. Not being able to say precisely who contributed which technique to which toolkit doesn't make a clinician any less effective. Also, a formulation-based approach means recognising that there is no one size fits all treatment, and that if a person's agoraphobia is related to trauma, they might well require a different approach than someone whose agoraphobia is of different origin. It's not evidence-based to suggest a technique as being universally applicable, no matter how many personal testimonies you see in favour of it. (And a large number of personal testimonies are still anecdotal evidence, nothing more.)

Secondly, something seems a bit fishy here. The names of Nobel nominees can't be revealed until fifty years after the date of nomination. There is no data available on nominations for the Nobel Prize for Medicine after 1953. The only place claiming that Weekes was nominated for a Nobel Prize is a website run by her estate, and anyone can make that claim. Recently we had the case of Joel Davis, a prolific sexual predator who set up an web-based organisation dedicated to combating sexual violence against children, who claimed to have been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. There is no proof that he was nominated, other than his word, and it seems likely that this claim was made so that he could gain traction in the sphere of international development and access more victims that way. If Weekes had been a serious contender for a Nobel, I would expect a raft of peer-reviewed publications, or at least one very high quality groundbreaking publication, and from what I can see she wrote self-help books and published very little in the academic domain. This means there is no real way to assess her impact. I get quite cautious when I see people claiming to have been nominated for prestigious awards in these circumstances, especially when there is no public record available.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
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maven
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Re: The Claire Weekes Approach for anxiety related conditions

Post by maven » Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:07 pm

Indeed, you've got a really odd set of expectations, that the public should understand the evidence base and that clinicians should know every therapy approach. I don't work with anxiety, I don't know this person. But I still stand by the fact there should be proper independent research evidence. The plural of anecdote is not data.
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Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

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Re: The Claire Weekes Approach for anxiety related conditions

Post by Spatch » Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:45 pm

I wonder if something else is being played out here; the way CBT has evolved and developed over the last 50 years and what we see as a single unified approach is actually the combination and refinement of lots of different elements and potentially comes from lots of different traditions and sources.

If you take a closer look at Weekes approach it is heaviy based on what we would recognised as exposure and response prevention and draws from a lot of what Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck originally made famous in the 60s. Which in turn drew from the work of the behaviourists like Watson and Skinner in the early 20th century (which also influenced the development of ACT), which in turn is heavily influenced from late 19th century psychologists like Pavlov and so on. In my mind it is pretty much CBT/ACT but packaged very nicely by a warm and charismatic maternal figure. That's not being disrespectful, it's pretty good stuff and it works, but it is not a completely alternative approach like Rogerian counselling or Lacanian psychoanalysis. It is also going to be really hard to compare using an RCT, because it correlates so highly with "regular CBT" you can't have genuine independence in approach.
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