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Capital Anxiety: Dealing with political anxiety in our practices

Workshop Level: All levels

This workshop is for licensed psychologists who want to better describe, discuss and assess the psychological stressors that clients may struggle with in the context of our country’s current political environment.                                                                         

Program Description: Post-Election Stress Disorder, while not a diagnosis, frequently is used to represent a cluster of symptoms on the rise among Americans over recent months – disrupted sleep, headaches, impaired concentration, gastrointestinal issues, interpersonal tensions. The 2016 election cycle was a significant deviation from past, contributing to an unsettling sense of vulnerability, suspicion, and fear.  For some clients, MAGA may stand for “Make Anxiety Grow Again” while for others “Feeling the Bern” may mean restless nights of heartburn and agitation for both sides.  With the 2018 mid-term elections just around the corner, there may be a resurgence in these symptoms among clients.

The American Psychological Association estimates that two thirds of Americans – Democrats and Republicans – are stressed about the future of the country.  This politically neutral presentation analyzes the increase in anxiety and mood related issues that may be seen in direct response to the recent political climate.  Clients who already have stress around social interactions may need additional guidance with navigating differing political opinions within their social network.  With a reputation of being untrustworthy, politicians are increasingly perceived as unbelievable, perpetuating clients’ sense of being exposed and unprotected by the system that is intended to serve them.  Clients already feeling anxious about the wellbeing of their families may shift their fears to themes brought up in campaign rhetoric.

How can clinicians use and apply research from cognitive and political psychology and communications theory to help clients learn to effectively filter their exposure to the media (e.g., is it truly is “Breaking News” or if the news cycle just broken?), regulate the frequency with which they check their e-mail, social media, and various smart devices, and resist “click bait”?

How do clinicians address the increase in symptoms that stems from continual coverage of governmental and political shenanigans? How can clinicians support clients in navigating their political paths?  We will discuss strategies for encouraging clients to protect their personal spaces from overwhelming political intrusions.  We will question if it is appropriate to foster clients’ political identities and how these are defined.  The presenter will acknowledge personal difficulties with this clinical work, focusing on supporting clients through their anxiety-based challenges while managing boundaries regarding their own political experiences.

Learning Objectives:  As a result of attending this workshop, it is expected that participants will  have increased knowledge and understanding of the following issues:

  1. Describe three ways in which clients with anxiety may be more vulnerable to politically-related triggers
  2. Identify and compare three strategies that clients can use to limit and challenge their exposure to anxiety-provoking political material
  3. Explain the potential challenges a clinician may face when engaging with a client on politically-charged themes and discuss methods for addressing these challenges.

About the Presenter:  Dr. Bell is the director of the Bell Center for Anxiety and Depression.  As a licensed psychologist, she has an extensive background and training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  She works primarily with adults and adolescents, focusing on the treatment of Hoarding Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other anxiety disorders, depression, and interpersonal difficulties.

Dr. Elspeth Bell received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology at Vassar College.  She received both her Master’s in psychology and Doctorate in clinical psychology from Fordham University, with an emphasis on cognitive behavioral therapies and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Her doctoral dissertation examined the relationship between childhood OCD and family-related anxieties.  Dr. Bell completed her pre-doctoral internship at the John L. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents (JLG-RICA) in Rockville, Maryland. She is licensed to practice psychology in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Continuing Education Credit: CE is granted to participants with documented attendance and completed evaluation not be granted to registrants who are more than 15 minutes late, are absent more than 15 minutes during the session, or depart more than 15 minutes early. A certificate for three CE credits will be awarded upon satisfactory completion of this workshop. APP is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. APP maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

This workshop program is accessible to all individuals, in compliance with the Americans for Disabilities Act.  Accommodations for individuals with sensory impairments can be made with three (3) weeks advance notice.

APP has no commercial relationship to the presenter of this CE program and does not seek to promote any commercial undertaking with which the presenter may be engaged. However, APP does allow the presenter to make available copies of a published product to interested participants.

LOCATION:       Registration, Continental Breakfast, and Socializing: 8:30 am to 9:00 am

Doubletree Silver Spring at 8727 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Maryland, 20910

Located 2 blocks from Metro Red Line. Free public parking across from and behind the hotel.

COST:    Early Registration (on or before Saturday, October 13, 2018): $45 for APP members and $70 for nonmembers (when online, $10 discount will be applied at checkout)

Regular registration (after October 13, 2018):   $55 for APP members and $80 for nonmembers

HANDOUTS:      May be downloaded free of charge to registered participants from the APP website. If you would like to receive paper handouts at the workshop, include an additional $5 with your registration fee. Handouts will be available online as of the Wednesday prior to the workshop.

A full refund, minus a $10.00 service charge, will be made for requests made to by Saturday October 13, 2018. No refunds will be made thereafter.

For information regarding registration, contact Jody Keating at  For questions or requests concerning the program contact Denise Dewhurst, Ph.D. at 240-567-7721.

The event is finished.


Oct 21 2018


9:00 am - 12:15 pm




Doubletree by Hilton Silver Spring
8727 Colesville Road