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Digital Seminar

The New Face of Anxiety: Treating Anxiety Disorders in the Age of Texting, Social Media and 24/7 Internet Access

Margaret Wehrenberg, PsyD
6 Hours 20 Minutes
Audio and Video
May 12, 2021
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Digital Seminar
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Texting rather than talking. Gathering “likes” and followers. Making friends via a gaming console. Unrelenting 24/7 news cycles. Ready or not, the rise of social media, and 24/7 Internet access has changed the way we relate to one another (and ourselves), leaving in its wake a whole new set of challenges for those who use it.

As therapists, you see people of all ages with these issues:

The girl who can’t put her phone away during session. The boy who isn’t sleeping after reading messages on social media. “Friends” of all ages who shame each other for life choices and argue by text. The socially anxious young adult who struggles to meet people in person because all of his “friends” are online. The parent who has to contend with “Facebook shaming” for every parenting decision. The older adult who feels out of touch and disconnected. The impact is rampant and pervasive – as a result, treatment of anxiety doesn’t look the same anymore.

Watch this unique and engaging seminar to learn innovative ways to treat this new facet of anxiety with today’s client. You’ll discover:

  • Key questions to ask at assessment to uncover problematic use of technology
  • How excessive screen time affects mood, anxiety and self-worth in clients of all ages
  • Tools to help clients regulate their emotions and make wise decisions (on and offline)
  • Innovative techniques for promoting healthy use of technology with clients
  • Deliberate strategies for managing time, device use and “information overload”

Purchase today!


- PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This online program is worth 6.5 hours CPD for points calculation by your association.



Margaret Wehrenberg, PsyD's Profile

Margaret Wehrenberg, PsyD Related seminars and products

Margaret Wehrenberg, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist, is the author of nine books on the treatment of anxiety and depression, including her most recent e-book, Pandemic Anxiety: Fear, Stress, and Loss in Traumatic Times (January, 2021), bestselling book, The 10 Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques (W.W. Norton, 2018), and You Can Handle It: 10 Steps to Shift Stress from Problem to Possibility (PESI, 2017). She has also written a book for the general public, The 10 Best Anxiety Busters.

An expert on the treatment of anxiety and depression, she also has extensive training and expertise in the neurobiology of psychological disorders. In addition to clinical work, she coaches business professionals on managing anxiety and has contributed articles for the Psychotherapy Networker magazine. She has produced Relaxation for Tension and Worry, audio soundtracks for breathing, muscle relaxation and imagery to use with anxious clients. Margaret blogs on depression for Psychology Today. Noted for humor, pragmatic treatment approaches, and her interactive teaching style, Dr. Wehrenberg is a sought-after speaker for conferences and trainings, consistently getting the highest ratings for her dynamic presentation and high-quality content. She is one of PESI’s most highly rated speakers and her evaluation from the most seasoned professionals often rank her training “as among the best I have ever attended.”

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Margaret Wehrenberg maintains a private practice. She receives royalties as a published author. She is an international presenter and receives compensation. Dr. Wehrenberg receives a speaking honorarium, book royalties, and recording royalties from Psychotherapy Networker and PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Margaret Wehrenberg is a member of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America.


  1. Evaluate the impact persistent “screen time” exposure can have on the neurobiological and psychological health of clients. 
  2. Employ strategies to effectively reduce excessive use of technology that leads to avoidance and increased anxiety. 
  3. Propose healthy technology guidelines that increase clients’ usage capacity and decrease risk of anxiety and other mental health symptoms.
  4. Develop clinical practices that decrease rumination and build resilience to the stress of the digital world. 
  5. Determine five strategies to help clients overcome irrational fears of social interaction in order to improve clinical outcomes.   
  6. Implement cognitive-behavioural strategies for challenging distorted beliefs and the “comparison fallacy” as related to online interactions.


Neurobiology: The Impact of 24/7 Internet and “Information Overload”

  • Is it an addiction? The role of dopamine
  • Variable interval rewards: The most powerful reinforcement
  • Perpetual state of “fight or flight”
  • Impact of technology on the prefrontal cortex
  • ”Multi-tasking”: Changing the landscape of learning
  • The impact of screen time on rumination
  • Impulse control at all ages: Instant v. delayed gratification

Why the Increase in Anxiety? Understand the Problem to Help Clients Find Solutions

  • The psychological hook of “checking in”
  • Broad skills deficits for coping with normal situations
  • Collective anxiety due to 24/7 news cycles
  • Generational differences
  • Illusions of perfection online
  • New fears created/exacerbated by digital media:
    • Negative evaluation/rejection
    • Having behaviour recorded or posted publicly
    • Fear of missing out (FOMO)
    • Confrontation
    • Taking on responsibilities (“Adulting”)
    • Nomophobia
  • Use of technology to avoid emotional experiences
  • The meaning of “friend” has changed
  • Cyberbullying at all ages: The power of anonymity

Strategies that Promote Healthy Use of Technology

  • Key questions that uncover anxiety related to digital media use
  • Techniques for providing meaningful psychoeducation
  • Use “demand delays” to diminish impact of rapid screen shifting
  • Tools for setting device boundaries to create more balance
  • ”Be still” techniques to tolerate time away from devices

Therapy Tools to Improve Emotional Regulation, Reduce Anxiety and Build Self-Worth

Exposure Therapy/Coaching

  • Avoid avoidance!
  • How to provide meaningful psychoeducation
  • The 3 C’s: Calm, Competent, and Confident
  • Accurate anticipation: The power of imagination exposure
  • Techniques for teaching social skills
  • 5 ways to overcome fears of social situations
  • Utilize FOMO (fear of missing out) as a tool for goal development
  • Address “adulting” fears

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy

  • Challenge the “comparison fallacy” of online interactions
  • Identify and challenge distorted beliefs about the self
  • Create new self-talk by changing the script
  • Combat perfectionism and procrastination
  • Ellis’ ABCD approach to identify inhibiting beliefs

Stress Management

  • Eliminate the stressor – incorporate media “time outs”
  • Manage time and environment
  • Shifting attitudes

Relaxation and Mindfulness

  • Skills for calming the persistently vigilant nervous system
  • Interrupt rumination and build resilience
  • Apps that promote calming breathing techniques

Clinical Considerations

  • Identify and address personal bias/countertransference issues
  • Between-session recommendations that reinforce skills
  • Limitations of the research and potential risks

Target Audience

  • Social Workers
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Counselors
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Case Managers
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Other Mental Health Professionals

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