Psychological Models of Worry and Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Peter L. Fisher and Adrian Wells

in Oxford Handbook of Anxiety and Related Disorders

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780195307030
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Psychological Models of Worry and Generalized Anxiety Disorder


This chapter reviews the four main psychological models and theories of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). These are cognitive avoidance theory, metacognitive model, intolerance of uncertainty theory, and the emotional dysregulation model. The empirical support for each is critically appraised. Although each theory offers a cognitive behavioral analysis, they differ in their emphasis on the psychological processes involved in the maintenance of pathological worry. As a result they give rise to four distinct treatments. The clinical implications and the treatment efficacy of the four approaches are briefly reviewed. The chapter concludes with a comparative analysis of how well each theory accounts for the cardinal feature of GAD, namely, excessive and uncontrollable worry.

Keywords: anxious apprehension; cognition; emotion; generalized anxiety disorder; generalized anxiety disorder theories; metacognition; models; uncertainty

Article.  9265 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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