The following are transcriptions of radio program interviews, in which Dr. Craig April appeared as the featured guest. Although each radio program differed in tone, all interviews focused on various aspects of phobias, anxiety and OCD.
1.) The Dresser After Dark Radio Show:
RADIO HOST: Welcome back. I'm Michael Ray. You're listening to Dresser After Dark. Dr. Craig April, Ph.D., is the founder of The April Center for Anxiety Management in Los Angeles. Dr. April has been treating anxiety for 15 years now, and is an expert in cognitive behavioral techniques. He has been interviewed by Marie Clare, Cosmopolitan and is a featured psychologist on A&E's (TV show) OBSESSED. Let's say, Dr. April, hi, welcome to the show.
DR. APRIL: Thanks for having me.
RADIO HOST: Thank you so much for being here. Dr. April when we talk about phobias, now there's a difference between a fear and a phobia isn't there?
DR. APRIL: There certainly is.
RADIO HOST: What are we dealing with, so we know the difference between the two?
DR. APRIL: Well, a phobia is an irrational fear of a situation, event or object that results in a tendency to avoid that fear stimulus, but it only becomes a true diagnosable phobia when it starts to significantly interfere with your life.
RADIO HOST: Okay. So in essence can a fear just pop up and a phobia is there, it's buried somewhere deep and if you see something that fear ties to it?
DR. APRIL: Well, that can certainly be. A phobia is often born out of a scary experience where you felt threatened or endangered. For example, let's say you were bitten by a dog or attacked by a dog, well now you might fear dogs. That's how a phobia is generated. Once a tendency to avoid begins, the fear significantly interferes with life and is now a phobia. However, in terms of just basic fear, we all have fears. It's part of life.
RADIO HOST: Sure. Sure. No, no question about it.
DR. APRIL: Right.
RADIO HOST: So the basic fear is something normal and natural to everybody but then we transcend to something called a phobia.
DR. APRIL: Right.
RADIO HOST: Okay, now you deal a lot with anxiety. Is anxiety the precursor to phobia?
DR. APRIL: It often is. Generally speaking, the people that really struggle with phobias often tend to be biologically predisposed to some anxiety. Now that's not always the case, but it often is. But that said anyone can develop a phobia.
RADIO HOST: Okay. Now there are some strange phobias out there. And the three top strangest phobias that are out there ‑‑ the ones you've dealt with and their root causes -- what are we looking at for the most part?
DR. APRIL: Well there are some very common phobias but the three top strange phobias tend to be claustrophobia, which is a fear of closed spaces. And then there is acrophobia, which is fear of heights. And then ophidiophobia, which is fear of snakes.
RADIO HOST: Snakes are that high, huh?
DR. APRIL: That high. You wouldn't think that but very, very common. That one is interesting because there tends to be a genetic basis with fear of snakes. On one level we're almost born with that kind of a fear. So, genetically speaking, it goes way back and, obviously, if we have some kind of scary experience with a snake it can really become a full blown phobia.
RADIO HOST: Okay, let's talk claustrophobia. A lot of people are afraid of getting squeezed in as if you're in a closet and you can't get out. What causes that?
DR. APRIL: Well, again, all phobias are caused by two things. Either a scary experience like a panic attack in a small enclosed space, for example. This individual can now become claustrophobic the more they avoid small spaces. However, without that scary experience, one can develop a phobia simply through observation and learning. This happens a lot with children growing up in a home where parents have some kind of a phobia. The children can take on that phobia just based on observation and learning.
RADIO HOST: Okay so in essence what we're really dealing with is something that can cause a problem in a relationship; can cause a problem in your life. Because there are a lot of challenges that go on with the phobia. A lot of things that you're frightened to do because it might appear and I would venture to guess that it stops a lot of people's lives. When you work with somebody in office. When you sit down; you have that initial consultation; what is it that you look for in that person?
DR. APRIL: Well, first I really want to identify the specific anxiety because anxiety can be quite complex, especially if it's been ongoing for some time. So, there are simple phobias, which are phobias I just described. Then there are more complicated phobias or complex phobias like agoraphobia, which you may have heard of; fear of flying; and social phobia. Those are a little bit more complex though. Some of those can mirror some of the more simple phobias, but they tend to be more involved. Agoraphobia is one example of that. It can look like claustrophobia, but it's much more involved.
RADIO HOST: But isn't that more of a fear of loss of control? It reminds me of the original Superman movie when Lois Lane jumped off the building and Superman flew up and got her and he said "Got you" and she said "Who's got you?" But effectively, isn't that the fear of loss of control?
DR. APRIL: Isn't what the fear of loss of control?
RADIO HOST: The fear of flying?
DR. APRIL: It can be. That can certainly be a part of it, which is why it's a complex phobia because there can be a fear of loss of control. There can be a fear of crashing. There can be a fear of being stuck in a small area on a plane that you can't escape from easily. So there are all sorts of fears involved in that one fear of flying.
RADIO HOST: Okay. Let me ask you this, in this economic turndown and people losing their jobs and the fear of the potential of losing your job, your business, whatever the case may be, are you finding more and more people coming into the office? Are you dealing with more and more anxiety?
DR. APRIL: Absolutely. It's certainly been a common ailment for many, many years, but it's now even more extreme because issues with the economy are triggering so much anxiety for people.
RADIO HOST: Dr. April, obviously the problem is just not going to go away. It's not going to go away that fast. It's going to be there. So what do you do to keep yourself calm? What do you do to see yourself through this in such a way that you can make it and you can see light at the end of the tunnel?
DR. APRIL: Well, there are a couple of things. One, like I said, you want to identify the nature of your anxiety. Two, you want to start modifying some of the false beliefs you have. For example, with a phobia you might have the belief that you can't handle facing this feared object or situation. And you really want to modify that false belief because generally speaking false beliefs are what create the anxiety. It's not the event itself. We control how we respond. We may not be able to control what happens to us or what happens in the environment, but we control how we respond.
RADIO HOST: Okay, let me hold you up. So let's say for instance that I get this belief that no woman will go out with me. And now I'm afraid to ask somebody because maybe somebody said “No” to me and I created this whole scenario around going out with somebody. Now I'm anxious and I stop it before it happens because I'm afraid somebody is going to say “No”. Have I taken a fear and moved it to the next level of a phobia?
DR. APRIL: Absolutely. That's actually a great example of something I treat at my Center all the time. That has become a phobia because it then interferes with your life and it leads to a lot of avoidance, so that would need to be treated. There are a lot of false beliefs in what you just said, so the first step in treatment might be to modify your false beliefs of (1) “can't handle rejection”, and (2) “no one will go out with me”. But the next step in the treatment I offer is to assist people in facing this fear gradually. The key treatment for a phobia is exposure to that feared stimulus. Gradual exposure.
RADIO HOST: Let me ask you this. Are you doing workshops? Are you doing seminars? How do people get to you?
DR. APRIL: They can find me on my website. I'm at www.kickfear.com and I offer a lot of treatment options here at my Center. Individual therapy and group therapy. I'm also creating a meditation CD. Zen meditation can go a long way in treating anxiety.
RADIO HOST: Is that the -- I just did an interview with someone along those lines of Zen meditation. Is that about focusing, about getting yourself centered and getting yourself comfortable with who you are and not letting all of these outside influences affect you during a period of time?
DR. APRIL: That's definitely part of it, but in thinking about anxiety, when anxious we are never present focused. We are always thinking about the past. Something that happened long ago or thinking about the future, as in “What if this happens, what if that happens.” So we're missing the present moment. But what we fear is never really happening in the present moment. Zen meditation is, at least the one I teach at my Center, really about working with the present moment, which can calm the body.
RADIO HOST: Now working with the present moment. That's got to be very hard for a lot of people. We're thinking 20 minutes ahead, 2 hours behind and in this very fast paced, microwavable world that we live in, it is very hard for people to slow down.
DR. APRIL: It's very challenging. We're a society of multi-taskers and a society of future-oriented thinkers. Always working with the perspective of everything being a means to an end, rather than the exact situation we're dealing with; what's the present moment? So it's a very common struggle and something that needs help.
RADIO HOST: Dr. April, are there steps to get there? Are there things that the average person can do if they're not going to get into and deal with therapy?
DR. APRIL: Absolutely. What the average person can do is really understand that with anxiety, ultimately, you've got face it to get past it. There's really no other way and that's the challenging experience for all people. If fear was easy to overcome then there wouldn't be any fear. So the challenge is in facing that fear gradually because there is no other way and people try to skirt that issue all the time and never see results. It's really about falling off the horse and getting back on; you've got to do it.
RADIO HOST: Now we got the "R" word coming and that word is responsibility. We're been trained, almost indoctrinated, not to be responsible anymore. It's somebody else's fault. Now I know that's garbage and anybody who understands “responsibility” understands there's a lot of misinformation. Nobody can cause you to make the choices that you make in your life.
DR. APRIL: You are speaking my language. I teach people to not be victims. To be accountable for whatever internal experience they're having and if it's an extreme experience, then they can change it and do what's necessary…
RADIO HOST: Absolutely. I can't stop you from walking up and punching me in the nose, but I can choose how I want to respond and how I want to feel about it.
DR. APRIL: Exactly.
RADIO HOST: And I think that's what it really is. And the one thing that we always have is choice and I think many people, not that they don't know, they forget.
DR. APRIL: This is true. And that's the nature of anxiety. Anxiety can be so challenging that you can really begin to feel victimized. It can shut down your life if you let it and if you don't seek the correct treatment. And that's what I offer - Help.
RADIO HOST: Now, the Center itself. You're in Los Angeles, right?
DR. APRIL: I am.
RADIO HOST: What area in L.A. are you?
DR. APRIL: I am just a block outside Beverly Hills.
RADIO HOST: Oh, okay, I know where you are. I'm an old Los Angelino. I was brought up there. Where exactly are you?
DR. APRIL: I'm right on Wilshire.
RADIO HOST: Okay. I was working at the CEIR Building on Wilshire Boulevard at that's just touching Beverly Hills. I don't even know if it's there anymore. Way back when. You're there in that area, but how does somebody get to the Center. What if you're not in Los Angeles?
DR. APRIL: Well, I offer phone sessions, if appropriate regarding location. So, people can call my Center and request phone sessions. It depends on the nature of their anxiety and location whether or not that's going to be an appropriate treatment. That's one option.
RADIO HOST: Okay. We're starting to run out of time. But they find you at kickfear.com.
DR. APRIL: Exactly. Just like kicking your fear, www.Kickfear.com .
RADIO HOST: I love it. We've got to go. Dr. April, thank you so much for joining us.
DR. APRIL: Thanks so much. I enjoyed it.
2.) The Cowhead Radio Show:
Interviewer: ...Tampa Bay’s classic rock station. Let’s go to the hotline and welcome to our show for the first time from A&E’s OBSESSED, Dr. Craig April. Dr. April, how are you, sir?
Dr. April: Hi, doing well. Thanks for having me.
Interviewer: Thank you for being patient. We’ve been so behind today I appreciate you being patient with us.
Dr. April: No trouble.
Interviewer: Dr. April is on OBSESSED, which we found, of course, by watching one of our favorite shows, Intervention. And OBSESSED has quickly become an equal to Intervention. Is it sad that we enjoy your show?
Dr. April: The thing about OBSESSED, which is different than Intervention in a way, is that OBSESSED is about fear and we all can relate to fear.
Interviewer: I’m trying to think... I guess it is in the end, even the people who have... I’m trying to think of some of the things that they did. Like the one woman is afraid of germs and one is afraid of heights. But what about the gay guy who was cleaning everything who was really just dealing with the fact that he was gay and it was manifesting itself in different ways?
Dr. April: That’s really not what he was dealing with, actually. It was a fear of germs. He was a germaphobe with OCD. That’s how OCD can manifest. When you strip away all the severe symptoms that people are seeing on this show, which are quite common, it truly is just about fear.
Interviewer: My wife is a mental health counselor and she just started doing that, but while she was going to school and I could watch these shows and learn things with her, I started to recognize how common these things are in everyday peoples’ lives. Because before my wife really got into it and before Intervention, I just thought that it was like a few people, but the truth is that it’s a lot more common in everyday people... just the level of how much it affects them.
Dr. April: Absolutely. There are millions of people that suffer with OCD and Anxiety Disorders. It’s just that there’s a lot of shame around it so people don’t really share it very much. So we don’t really know, at least in the general population, how many people are really struggling, but statistically there are millions.
Interviewer: What are some of the worst cases maybe that you’ve dealt with that we would... that we haven’t even seen on TV?
Dr. April: Oh, you mean outside of TV?
Interviewer: Yeah, like some of the things... I gotta tell you and this wasn’t you on this case, but the one that we were all talking about before the show was the woman that is so obsessed with germs and cleaning that she is cleaning her butt with a toothbrush and that is crippling... it’s weird, but it’s also crippling her life and her family and her health.
Dr. April: Absolutely. In terms of the cases that I’ve seen, everything that you’re seeing on the TV show are issues that I see at my center every week. On the show you are seeing some severe cases, but again these are all really common issues and symptoms. Certainly in terms of germaphobia or obsessions with germs.
Interviewer: What are some of the uncommon ones?
Dr. April: Well, you may have seen the episode with my patient Nicole who had this OCD obsession with hands. Her mother’s hands, her brother’s hands. It’s really interesting because although that one seems to be outside of the typical obsession, and with OCD there are very common obsessions, but Nicole’s obsession with her mother’s hands, her brother’s hands... that in a way is uncommon. Yet OCD can attach itself to anything and it can manifest anywhere. That’s really the nature of this syndrome, which is so fascinating.
Interviewer: I’ve noticed from watching that it seems like they have... most of them have one main thing and then there’s little offshoots of other stuff like her with the hands, but then even whenever they were eating the meal and stuff she made her mom put the knife and fork down in a certain way. Is there anybody who just has one (OCD) thing where they’re like, “This is my one thing, that’s the only problem I have?”
Dr. April: Generally not, because anxiety and OCD are insidious, so they usually have their greatest hits. Meaning that they’re coming up, coming up, over and over again and those are the real popular obsessions or symptoms for them. But once they get through those, which is what you’re seeing on the TV show... you’re seeing really incredible progress. You’re seeing reduction in the main obsession that is holding these people back in life, that has just been a huge barrier for them.
Interviewer: And what do you find is curing, if you can cure these people, is it about mostly medication or is it just some OCD after you work mostly through therapy?
Dr. April: It’s really got to be worked through in therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which focuses on changing (anxiety producing) thoughts which then changes behaviors and vice versa; changing (anxiety producing) behaviors which then changes thoughts. In terms of medication... medication can, at times help, but mainly it reduces some of the symptoms enough so that someone can do the work you’re seeing on the TV show. The work that you’re seeing on the show is obviously all natural therapy and that’s what helps people make so much progress.
Interviewer: You guys do a great job on there and believe in the stuff so much, obviously you’re helping the people, but the one doctor, and I don’t know what her name was, but she had... there was a patient who was afraid that she would grab a knife and go and cut and kill people and stuff and she let the lady put a big butcher knife right up to her throat and said, “What’s your level now? What are you feeling? How much anxiety” and stuff. You’ve got to really make sure you know what you’re doing before you do that.
Dr. April: Well, I think she even commented that if she thought this patient was a serial killer she wouldn’t go there. But in terms of OCD, generally speaking, people with OCD are some of the most sensitive, warm, kind and caring people around. However, they are hypervigilant and sensitive to their own bodily sensations and thoughts. This encourages obsessions. That woman on the show, in no way was she going to harm that therapist. The therapist knew that.
Interviewer: I tell you, the show is really... there’s some stuff on Intervention that’s just comical – you’ve got a guy who can’t stop playing video games so much and I had to laugh at that, but on OBSESSED it really is sad. You’ve got families that are all trying to cope... this poor woman that couldn’t drive on the highway. She would freak out every time she got in the car and these are every day occurrences for these people and it’s very sad. How did they find you for the show?
Dr. April: They found my website. I run an anxiety treatment center here in Los Angeles. They gave me a call and had me come in for a filmed interview. It began there.
Interviewer: By the way, what my wife has diagnosed me with is extreme anxiety disorder. I try to see if I have any... because everybody’s got a little OCD in them. You’ll even hear people make that, “Oh that’s my OCD kicking in.”
Dr. April: Everyone has their quirks... everyone.
Interviewer: And I’m trying to think, I can’t... I mean I’m sure there’s something but I can’t... when it comes to anxiety I worry about stuff that I just don’t have to worry about.
Dr. April: And you’re in good company because 40 million Americans also struggle with these kinds of anxiety issues.
Interviewer: My argument with her is “do I have anxiety or am I just using common sense?” One day I have to worry that I’m going to get fired. You know what I’m saying? I’m not worried that a meteor is going to hit the earth, I’m worried that we’re going to lose our damn house. So how much is anxiety really just common sense?
Dr. April: Well, you’ve got to battle that with reason. What is the likelihood that you might lose your job? That’s where you really clarify it. Right? Is it common sense? Is that really going to happen? Is that possible? Of course it’s possible, anything is possible. It’s really just our best estimate, right? We don’t have control over what happens in life. All we can control is how we respond and the choices we make. On that note, it really is just our best estimate in terms of what might happen, what might not happen. You go with the greatest likelihood.
Interviewer: This is Dr. Craig April. His website is www.kickfear.com which is where The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management is. Where are you located?
Dr. April: I’m right in Los Angeles, a block outside of Beverly Hills.
Interviewer: And I would imagine that the show has been very successful, so far?
Dr. April: It’s been doing very well.
Interviewer: I mean Intervention was... I would hear my wife watch it and I would walk in and there would be somebody drunk or somebody shooting up heroin. It would just totally turn me off, but when I actually sat down and watched the show, all of a sudden I was just enjoying watching them all. OBSESSED has taken over right there, so I would imagine it will go on to be... get even bigger.
Dr. April: Thanks, I certainly hope so. It really is something that most people can relate to on some level, if not based on the severity of the symptoms then around fear as I said.
Interviewer: Do you see that The April Center is getting more patients because of the TV show because I think OBSESSED introduces how common OCD is, more people like you said will be not too embarrassed to come forward and say they might have problems.
Dr. April: Absolutely. I get a flood of calls every week after the show airs from people who have suffered with OCD for many years, but have not been clear that that is what it is. So, when they see the show and they see someone with driving anxiety or germaphobia, it dawns on them that they have a problem and they’re more apt to come in to get some help.
Interviewer: Is the flood of phone calls just one guy who has OCD calling over and over?
Dr. April: That can happen, but not quite (laughing).
Interviewer: Dr. April, we appreciate you being patient and coming on the show. Good luck with OBSESSED. Check it out Monday nights and we’ll keep an eye on it man.
Dr. April: Thanks so much for having me. I enjoyed talking to you.
Interviewer: Take it easy. There you go, Dr. April. The show is really good.
3.) The Welcome To Icons show:
Host: Welcome to Icons. The only show asking your favorite celebrities and corporate executives questions you always wanted answers to. I’m your host, Robert Feeney and our next guest strays a little bit away from our focus, but we felt it is a topic that is so important that we wanted to have him on. He is an expert in cognitive behavioral techniques focusing on anxiety relief and also the founder of The April Center for Anxiety Management and now featured on the hit A&E TV show OBSESSED. Please welcome Dr. April. How are you doing?
Dr. April: Doing well, thanks for having me.
Host: Well, thanks for agreeing to be on our program and joining us today. It’s a real privilege having you on our show and first off a little bit more about your résumé. You, as I mentioned, founded The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management, which is a well-known anxiety treatment center in Los Angeles and you’ve been treating anxiety for what, 15 years?
Dr. April: Correct.
Host: You received your Masters Degree in 1994, your PhD in 1996, licensed as a psychologist in 1998 and you’ve extensively treated anxiety disorders in clinics, hospitals and university settings and I’m reading your background and I’m just... so many questions came to mind and one of the first things I wanted to ask is what exactly is cognitive behavioral therapy for anyone that might be listening that just doesn’t quite understand that meaning?
Dr. April: Well, cognitive behavioral therapy is a specialized form of therapy. It’s not traditional talk therapy. It’s very directive, it’s very structured. It’s about modifying false perspective (regarding anxiety) which then changes behavior and vice versa. These two components together are very powerful. In terms of anxiety treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy is the only proven form of treatment found to be effective.
Host: And obviously you decided to specialize in OCD disorders and to practice that, do you have to be sheared for a lack of a better word... did you have an OCD disorder at one point and that’s why you decided to go into it?
Dr. April: Well, that’s a great question. I actually treat all anxiety disorders, the full range being OCD, phobias, panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, worry, etc.. I treat all aspects of anxiety and the truth of the matter is that no one could possibly do this kind of work... this specialized kind of therapeutic work without having had anxiety in the past. Anxiety is one of those struggles that if you haven’t really had it... and of course we’ve all had anxiety to a point, but I’m talking about syndromes. If you haven’t struggled with anxiety, then you’re not really going to understand anxiety and the people that come into my center for treatments, that is one of the first things they say. They say, “No one in my family understands, my friends don’t understand because they haven’t had it.” And so this is why I’m so passionate about it. I’ve struggled with just about every aspect of anxiety in my past and that led me to question what it was about and how I could get past it. This led me down a path to expose fear. What is fear about? And so, absolutely, I’ve had my own struggles in the past, gotten through them and really wanted to help others. And that’s what I do.
Host: So let me ask you this then. The next question that comes to mind right away – how is anxiety created? Is it through a traumatic event or is it just something that is genetic or...?
Dr. April: You actually just hit all the markers, so I’ll go through them. People with anxiety disorder tend to have a biological genetic predisposition to anxiety. Oftentimes they’re just born on edge. Just a little bit more anxious than your average person. So that’s very common. It may not be absolutely required to develop an anxiety disorder... it’s not. But it’s very, very common. The other origin of an anxiety disorder or problem tends to be some kind of event. Sometimes traumatizing or just difficult to manage. Now with phobias, that’s what does happen. Some kind of a scary situation occurs based on feeling threatened or in danger, fear surfaces along with the tendency to start avoiding that fear stimulus. OCD is very different. OCD is a neurobiological disorder. It’s not something that someone can just catch. It’s not something that’s born out of a traumatic incident, however a traumatic incident can trigger OCD for those that are set up biologically or neurobiologically. But OCD is a brain issue primarily. People are born with it, whether it shows itself at a young age or not can be happenstance. For some, they’ve had struggles throughout their life. For others, OCD can explode after some kind of incident – stress, trauma or illness perhaps. Postpartum OCD’s are actually very common. For example, a woman does not have any history of OCD symptoms that interfere with her life, not even in childhood, but when the baby is born, suddenly OCD explodes and there are symptoms. So, OCD is truly a neurobiological disorder, but there is often a genetic component for the other anxiety disorders or syndromes, as well.
Host: Now how common... you say it’s common – do you have any statistics with that?
Dr. April: I do. First of all, anxiety disorders in general are common - 40 million people in any given year struggle with some form of anxiety disorder (according to NIMH – that number refers to phobia, OCD, panic disorder and more.
Host: That’s a lot. How do you know if you have a problem? What are some of the preliminary symptoms? What kind of develops until you just realize you’re being a little more nervous about something... or what are some of the symptoms that people can kind of look out for?
Dr. April: Well, with OCD there are two hallmarks and those are obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are not what most people think. In fact, the term obsessed is such a common one. It’s part of our society’s vernacular. People say I’m “obsessed” with chocolate cake, I’m “obsessed” with this style of clothing. It’s really not a true obsession – that’s either a passion or something that someone is ruminating over, but it’s not a true obsession. A true obsession is an intrusive, recurring, dark, unwanted thought, image or impulse considered by the sufferer to be inappropriate or irrational. It also causes a lot of suffering. That’s the definition of an obsession. And that’s the hallmark. Obsessions can take many, many forms in terms of OCD. You’ve probably heard of the typical one, for example, fear of contamination or germs. That’s one most people seem to know. But it can take many other forms. It can take the form of fear of causing harm to others or harm coming to oneself. So, someone could have thoughts of stabbing a family member, which obviously is very disturbing for them or hitting someone with their car... very common OCD thoughts. And you have to understand that none of these thoughts have anything to do with the individual. We’re all very identified with our thoughts. We think that when we have a thought, somehow it’s saying something about us. Meanwhile, millions of other people have those similar thoughts at one point or another. The issue with OCD is that it’s a neurobiological disorder. In other words, the thought becomes trapped by this particular brain’s difficulty in releasing the thought causing the obsessive thought to repeat.
(End of Part 1)
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