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The Relevance, Assessment, and Treatment of Death Anxiety in Mental Health Conditions
The Relevance, Assessment, and Treatment of Death Anxiety in Mental Health Conditions
The Relevance, Assessment, and Treatment of Death Anxiety in Mental Health Conditions

The Relevance, Assessment, and Treatment of Death Anxiety in Mental Health Conditions

Rachel E. Menzies, Ross G. Menzies

Professionals: $175.00 CAD +tax
Students: $140.00 CAD +tax


On June 16th and June 23rd 2023, Dr Rachel Menzies and Dr. Ross Menzies delivered a full-day workshop across two half-days on the assessment and treatment of death anxiety using a range of evidence-based procedures and protocols. This on-demand workshop is a recording of that presentation.

Workshop Outline

Research suggests that death anxiety may be a transdiagnostic causal factor in a variety of mental health disorders. Learning how to treat existential dread may be critical for achieving stable, long-term recovery in individuals with a broad range of anxiety and mood-related mental health problems.
Although death anxiety can be associated with the development of productive coping strategies (e.g. seeking achievement, extending the self through family and relationships), it may also drive crippling fear and maladaptive coping mechanisms. As such, it has been argued that the dread of death is a transdiagnostic construct with the potential to underpin a range of mental health problems including panic disorder, illness anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, OCD, the specific and social phobias, separation anxiety disorder, PTSD and depression.
If the dread of death is at the heart of various clinical presentations, treatment approaches which explicitly address these existential fears may be necessary. Conventional treatments which fail to target death anxiety may result in a ‘revolving door’ of individuals presenting with a shifting array of mental illnesses across their lifespan. Notably, recent research has reported relationships between fear of death and various markers of clinical severity, including overall distress, number of lifetime diagnoses and number of hospitalisations. This workshop will present a variety of innovative procedures to manage death anxiety that can be used in conjunction with standard CBT to provide a more comprehensive treatment of a range of mental health disorders.


Learning Objectives

At the end of the session, attendees will learn to:

  • Understand the role of death anxiety in underpinning a range of mental health disorders.

  • Increase competence in assessing for death-related fears.

  • Increase competence in building comprehensive formulations that account for adaptive and maladaptive behaviours in clients.

  • Master various cognitive and behavioural procedures and death education used in treating death anxiety.

  • Recognize when and how to integrate death anxiety work with standard clinical procedures for mental health disorders.

About the Presenter

Rachel Menzies is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Fellow at the University of Sydney, where she completed her honours, masters and doctoral degrees in psychology. Rachel published her first paper on death fears in Clinical Psychology Review as an undergraduate student, and followed this by convening a symposium on the topic at the 8th World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies in Melbourne in 2016. Her experimental work on fear of death and psychopathology has been published in several leading journals (e.g. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, British Journal of Clinical Psychology) and she can regularly be heard on national and international radio, popular podcasts and at relevant public events (e.g. The Festival of Death and Dying, Adelaide Writers Week). In 2017, she gave her first invited plenary address on death anxiety, and an invited workshop, at the 47th Congress of the European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (EABCT). Since then, she has published five books on existential issues and completed an invited workshop tour on the dread of death across seven cities for the Australian Association for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (AACBT). In 2021, she won the national PhD Prize from the Australian Psychological Society for her work of death anxiety and its relationship with mental health. In 2022, along with her co-author and father, Rachel won the Nib People’s Choice Literary Award and the Alex Buso Shortlist Prize for her book, Mortals. Rachel lives with her husband and runs a private practice in the inner city of Sydney.

Ross Menzies completed his undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in psychology at the University of NSW. He is currently Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Graduate School of Health, University of Technology Sydney (UTS). In 1991, he was appointed founding Director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the University of Sydney, a post which he held for over 20 years.  He is the past National President of the Australian Association for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (AACBT). He was the editor of Australia's national CBT journal, Behaviour Change, for 17 years and has trained psychologists, psychiatrists and allied health workers in CBT around the globe. Professor Menzies is an active researcher with three decades of continuous funding from national competitive sources. He has produced 10 books and more than 230 journal papers and book chapters and was the President and Convenor of the 8th World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (WCBCT) in Melbourne in 2016. He has recently been appointed a founding director of the newly formed World Confederation of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies (WCCBT) based in New York.

Training Modalities

The workshop will combine Socratic and didactic components with case examples, and illustrative and interactive elements, including an introduction to the use of film, music, apps, children’s books and related materials in treating existential dread.  

Who should attend

This workshop is for all mental health professionals interested in understanding how to assess and treat death anxiety. 

Continuing Education (CE) Credits

Bespoke Mental Health Canada is approved by the Canadian Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists. Bespoke Mental Health Canada maintains responsibility for the program. 
After viewing this workshop, participants have the option to complete an evaluation form and a workshop knowledge quiz in order to be eligible to receive a certificate confirming the number of credits awarded. This certificate will be sent via email.
Participants who completed this workshop are eligible to receive 6 CE credits


Professionals: $175 CAD +tax
Students*: $140 CAD +tax
* Proof of student status may be required in order to qualify for a student rate.

Key References

Dubue, J. D., & Hanson, W. E. (2020). Psychologists’ experiences conducting suicide risk assessments: A phenomenological study. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 54(4), 819-845.

Ellis, T. E., & Patel, A. B. (2012). Client suicide: What now? Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19(2), 277-287.

Hawton, K., Lascelles, K., Pitman, A., Gilbert, S., & Silverman, M. (2022). Assessment of suicide risk in mental health practice: Shifting from prediction to therapeutic assessment, formulation, and risk management. The Lancet Psychiatry, S2215036622002322.

Jobes, D. A., Zhang, I., & Tyndal, T. (2021). Collaborative assessment and management of suicidality approach. In M. Pompili (Ed.), Suicide risk assessment and prevention (pp. 1-17). Springer.

Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Shaw, S. L. (2017). Suicide risk assessment: What psychologists should know. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 48(2), 98–106.

Truscott, D. (2018). Ethics on the edge: Working with clients who are persistently suicidal. In M. M. Leach & E. R. Welfel (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of applied psychological ethics (pp. 134-153). Cambridge University Press.

Truscott, D. (2021). Ethical responsibilities when working with clients who are suicidal. College of Alberta Psychologists Monitor, 65, 14-16.

Truscott, D., & Crook, K. H. (2021). Ethics for the practice of psychology in Canada. University of Alberta Press.

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