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Stress Inoculation Training (SIT)
Meichenbaum (1985) believed that although we cannot change the causes of stress in our life, we can change the
way that we think about these stressors. As negative thinking may lead to negative outcomes such as anxiety and
depression, positive thinking leads to more positive attitudes and feelings. These reduce the stress response an help
us to cope better in the future.
Meichenbaum's therapy called SIT is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy developed specifically to deal with
stress. It is different from other stress treatments because he suggested that an individual should develop a form of
coping before the problem arises.
He proposed three main phases to this process:
1. Conceptualisation Phase: Therapist and client establish a relationship, and the client is educating about the
nature and impact of stress.
2. Skills acquisition phase (and rehearsal): Coping skills are taught and practised primarily in the clinic and
then gradually rehearsed in real life. A variety of skills are taught and tailored to the individual's own specific
problems. This includes: Positive thinking, relaxation, social skills, methods of attention diversion, using social
support systems and time managements.
3. Application phase (and follow through): Clients are given opportunities to apply the newly learned coping
skills in different situations, which become increasingly stressful. Various techniques may be used such as
imagery, modelling someone else cope with stressors and them imitating and role playing. Clients may even
be asked ti help train others. Booster sessions are offered later on.
Strengths of SIT:
Effectiveness: Meichenbaum (1977) compare with SIT with another form of treatment called systematic
desensitisation. Patients used SIT or desensitisation to deal with their snake phobias. Meichenbaum found that
although both forms of therapy reduced the phobia, SIT was better because it helped clients deal with a second,
non-treated phobia. This shows that SIT can inoculate against future stressful situations as well as offering help in
coping with current problems.
Sheehy and Horan (2004) examined the effects of SIT on the anxiety, stress and academic performance of first-year
law students. Participants received four weekly sessions of SIT, each lasting 90 minutes. Results showed that all
participants who received SIT displayed lower levels of anxiety and stress over time. The academic ranks of
participants predicted to finish in the bottom 20% of their class also reflected conspicuous and significant
improvement after SIT. More than half of these significantly improved their predicted class ranks.
Preparation for Future stressors: A major advantage of this method of stress management is that it doesn't just
deal with current confidence to cope with future problems. The focus on skills acquisition provides long-lasting
effectiveness so that the individual is less adversely affected by stressors in the future.
Weaknesses of SIT:
Time Consuming and requires high motivation: Requires a lot of time, effort, motivation and money. Its strengths are
also its weaknesses it is effective because it involves learning and practising many new skills, but this complexity
makes it a lengthy therapy which would suit only a limited range of determined individuals.
Unnecessarily complex: It may be that the effectiveness of SIT is due to certain elements off the training rather than
all of it. This means that the range of activities could be reduced without losing much of effectiveness. For example, it
might be equally effective to just learn to talk more positively and relax more.
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Salvatore Maddi, who worked with Kobasa, founded the Hardiness Institute in California. The aim of hardiness
training programme is to increase self-confidence and sense of control so that individuals can more successfully
Focusing: Client is taught how to recognise the physiological signs of stress, such as muscle tension and
increased heart rate, identify sources of this stress.
Reliving stress encounters: Client relives stress encounters and is helped to analyse these situations and
their response to them.…read more
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Benzodiazepines (BZs) Slow down the activity of the central nervous system
GABA is a neurotransmitter that is the body's natural form of anxiety relief. 40% of the neurons in the
brain respond to GABA which has a general quietening effect on many of the neurons in the brain.
Does this by reacting with GABA receptors on outside of receiving neurons.
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