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Dula provides seminars on stress management

By Lorelei Goff
On March 2, 2014

Chris Dula, associate professor of psychology at ETSU, channels his energy and 20 years of research and experience into free seminars that empower others to manage anxiety, stress and anger.
"I have people in my family that are close to me that suffered from panic attacks ... and I felt powerless," Dula said. "And I saw what happened to people when they don't have access to information or help. I have the information, so I'm going to provide all the help I can, and to as many people as I can, for free. And tell them to spread the word. Because that's my mission."
Dula presented an Anxiety/Stress Management seminar on Feb. 19 in the Brown Hall Auditorium. This seminar covered a variety of topics including chronic stress, anger management, panic attacks and anxiety.
"Anxiety treatment is my specialty," said Dula. "I've recommended medication to maybe two or three people in 10 years."
He said he prefers, instead, to educate people about what is happening in their bodies and minds, and how to manage it.
The seminar was broken up into two parts. The first provided information about the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, the adrenaline response to stress or anxiety, classical and operant conditioning and cognitive versus drug therapy.
Because the seminars are free and advertised to the general public, Dula said his audiences are typically made up of people from a wide range of backgrounds who may not be familiar with the concepts.
"Some people are in here going, 'I'm going to be a doctor and I need to know that, because I'm going to have panicked patients coming in and I don't want to prescribe them Xanax. I want to give them something they can use,'" he said. "And some people are just like, '... I just need help. I ain't here to get your clinical information. I just want personal information.'"
The second part of the seminar focused on practical, scientifically proven relaxation techniques for managing the stress response. Dula brought his audience, step by step, through the techniques of deep abdominal breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, giving them permission to take time out of their busy day to take care of themselves.
Nancy Sarvis, a senior majoring in psychology at ETSU, said she appreciated that reminder as much as the techniques.
"Just that freedom to take a few minutes for yourself," she said. "You rush around all day and you just kind of forget about yourself."
Dula said that is what motivates him to do the seminars.
"You realize how many people don't know any of this, and they suffer needlessly," he said. "At least to degrees that they don't need to suffer, if they had all of this kind of information. ... They might have gotten some serious help that they never would have got otherwise."
Information about upcoming seminars can be found on the ETSU website, or by contacting Dula at He posted his seminar on the university's YouTube channel,

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