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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Tackling Health Anxiety: A CBT Handbook

Helen Tyrer

Price: £18.00

Members' discount available

Published: Jul 2013

Format: Paperback

Number of pages: 150

ISBN: 9781908020901

Tackling Health Anxiety: A CBT Handbook

This straightforward book explains how to deliver cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) for health anxiety in ordinary practice. Health anxiety is very common but it is often undetected, especially in medical settings where people are constantly looking for evidence of physical disease. The problem is that many people with this condition are more concerned with further tests and investigations to exclude physical illness than with addressing their own worries over health. The introduction of psychological treatment has to be handled sensitively if it is going to be successful. This book shows how it can be done.


  • A new version of CBT specifically for health anxiety.
  • How to recognise health anxiety.
  • How to engage patients and introduce therapy.
  • How to separate the problems of anxiety from those of physical illness.

All clinicians – from nurses working in general practice, to consultant physicians – will recognise the scenarios Dr Tyrer uses to illustrate her practical approach to alleviating the distress felt by so many patients. All clinicians will value the time they can save by tackling their patients’ health anxiety.

This will be useful for liaison psychiatrists and, to some extent, for all healthcare professionals – especially general practitioners and nurses in primary care.

Dr Helen Tyrer – Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Imperial College, London.

ContentsList of tables, boxes, figures and case examples

Part I
1.    Introduction
2.    The cognitive theory of health anxiety
3.    Style of therapy
4.    The initial assessment
5.    Specific techniques
6.    Homework: setting and evaluation
7.    Setting goals
8.    Relapse prevention
9.    Troubleshooting

Part II
10.  Cardiology
11.  Respiratory medicine
12.  Gastroenterology
13.  Endocrinology
14.  Neurology
15.  Genito-urinary medicine
16.  Pain management
17.  Conclusions



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Highly Commended in the Psychiatry Category of the BMA Medical Book Awards 2014

“This is an excellent book for GPs. ...Up-to-date and the ancillary information is excellent. This book's strength is its conciseness. I cannot detect any weakness."
 - 2014 BMA Medical Book Awards: Programme and Awards Winners


See also:

CBT for Adults: A Practical Guide for Clinicians

"The book is successful in informing professionals unfamiliar with CBT principles. ...Provides an accessible resource that will assist medical professionals to increase knowledge, awareness and skills to assess health anxiety. ...It is easy to read and jargon free."
Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
"Tyrer's handbook has a number of strengths, making it a valuable resource...provides a clear and concise narrative to bring clinicians up to speed on the nuances of working with health anxiety clients...information is easily digestible, providing insightful and helpful case examples. ...An excellent resource for use with clinical trainees as an introduction to CBT for health anxiety...can be recommended."
British Journal of Psychology

"A comprehensive overview of the topic. ...Provides encouragement for health professionals to tailor their communication more appropriately with anxious patients. The tools given may also help clinicians identify those who require psychological input and encourage clinicians to explore the reasons behind the patient’s health anxiety, which would benefit both the client and the NHS as a whole, through more effective use of time and services." 

Journal of Mental Health