2024 Colloquims & Seminars

"Why do people worry?": What is known and what remains knotty

Dr. Naomi Koerner | Psychology, Toronto Metropolitan University

Friday, March 8th at 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Via Zoom

Event details

Abstract: Canadian research team Freeston, Rhéaume, Letarte, Dugas and Ladouceur posed this essential question over 30 years ago, at a time when the systematic study of worry was still relatively new. In the last three decades, we have learned a lot about the mechanisms of worry and this has resulted in several well-developed cognitive-behavioural theories and corresponding empirically-supported psychotherapies, notably for generalized anxiety disorder. Nonetheless, there is still much about the worry experience that remains elusive, and even paradoxical.

In this presentation, Dr. Koerner will share what she's learned about chronic worry and its treatment over the last 15+ years. She will provide an overview of what her research team, collaborators and herself have discovered about: attitudes toward uncertainty and their role in worry, the stories that people tell themselves when they are in a state of worry and anxiety, the kinds of emotional and affective experiences that trouble people who are prone to chronic worry, and more. Dr. Koerner will also share some musings on potential limitations of cognitive-behavioural conceptualizations of worry; for example, in the context of “uncertainty disasters.”

About Dr. Naomi Koerner: Dr. Naomi Koerner is a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Toronto Metropolitan University and a clinical psychologist. Naomi and her research team have been exploring the question, “why do people worry?” for over 15 years. She is an author of the second edition of the book, “Cognitive Behavioral Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: From Science to Practice” (Routledge) with Drs. Melisa Robichaud and Michel Dugas, which describes in detail how to help clients manage chronic worry and anxiety by encouraging them to face, and even embrace, uncertainty.

Naomi is also passionate about Latin America and the Caribbean. She has presented on and taught cognitive-behavioural therapy for chronic worry, anxiety and depression in Spanish, in a variety of spaces within the region.

With an interdisciplinary team of researchers, Naomi has been collaborating on the design and scaling of a cognitive-behavioural mental health program for young adults living in post-conflict zones in Colombia. 

Her theoretical work on the psychology of uncertainty in Puerto Rico with Dr. Jennifer Morales Cruz was recently recognized with a prize from the Puerto Rican Psychological Association. 

Naomi has promoted the importance of psychological science to the understanding and addressing of global challenges, via her positions in psychology associations. She is currently an Executive Secretary (United States and Canada) of the Sociedad Interamericana de Psicología (Interamerican Society of Psychology) and was previously a Director-at-Large of the International Council of Psychologists. Naomi is a Member of the International Relations Committee of the Canadian Psychological Association.