In this review we describe the intricate interrelationship among basic research, conceptualization of psychopathology, treatment development, treatment outcome research, and treatment mechanism research and how the interactions among these areas of study further our knowledge about psychopathology and its treatment. In describing the work of Edna Foa and her colleagues in anxiety disorders, we demonstrate how emotional processing theory of anxiety-related disorders and their treatment using exposure therapy have generated hypotheses about the psychopathology of posttraumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorder that have informed the development and refinement of specific treatment protocols for these disorders: prolonged exposure and exposure and response (ritual) prevention. Further, we have shown that the next step after the development of theoretically driven treatment protocols is to evaluate their efficacy. Once evidence for a treatment's efficacy has accumulated, studies of the mechanisms involved in the reduction of the targeted psychopathology are conducted, which in turn inform the theory and further refine the treatments. We conclude our review with a discussion of how the knowledge derived from Foa and colleagues' programmatic research together with knowledge emerging from basic research on extinction learning can inform future research on the psychopathology of anxiety disorders and their treatments.


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