Behavioural Therapies for phobias

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  • Behavioural Therapies
    • Systematic Desinstitisation - this is used to counter condition phobias; fear response is replaced with a feeling of calm/relaxation - these two feeling can't exist at the same time. The indivdual starts with fears that provoke minimal anxiety (e.g. looking at a picture of a spider) and gradually moves up to something like holding a spider.
      • Relaxation techniques are taught at every stage, and the indivdual does not move up until they are fully relaxed. The treatment is complete when the indivdual is able to work through the entire hierarchy without fear. There are two techiques in vitro (in imagination) or in vivi (in real life). Research suggests in vivi techniques have been more successful in curing phobias.
      • McGrath reports the success rate to be 75%. Reserach has also found that people with a phobia of injection, SD can relieve the symptoms the phobia in 90% of the cases.
        • Agoraphobia is one of the hardest phobias to treat yet meta-analyses have found a success rate of 60-80%. However relapses are common.
          • Combining treatment - research has shown that combining SD with CBT or drug treatment is effective in relieving phobias. Burke et al found that SD + medication was the best treatment for agoraphobia
    • Flooding
      • This is a controversial treatment whereby the individual is exposed to the feared object is a non-graded manner with no attempt to reduce prior anxiety. Can be conducted in vivo or vitro
        • The client is placed alone in the phobic situation. Client mist remain there until anxiety decreases. The Fear response can't be held constant, it has to subside eventually (over an hour). Emotional exhaustion will set in when the client realizes they are safe and nothing dreadful has happened to them.
    • Virtual Reality (VR) techniques
      • 3d computer grapics are used to simulate real world objects and situations. This is flooding taking place in a virtual enviroment
    • Alternative Therapies
      • Psycho-dynamic therapists criticize behavioral method for merely treating the symptom and not the cause of the disorder. However in comparison they are much more quicker and cheaper then psycho-dynamic therapies
        • Psychodynamic therapy - aims to uncover the repressed conflicts which are causing the phobia. The patient's childhood and relationships are explored.Catharsis can be achieved through talking through and coming to terms with issues from the past then the phobia will be cured.
          • The therapist uses a variety of techniques such as free association,dream analysis. However it is expensive, upsetting, limited success rate and takes a very long time.
    • Modelling therapy
      • Most commonly used for children, a parent will handle the phobic object in frount of the child to show that it is harmless. The child is gently encouraged to hold the fear object themselves.
        • Bandura has carried out research and found that modeling can be an effective treatment for nursery children with a phobia of dogs and snakes.

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