Aversion Therapy - Main Components


Aversion Therapy

Aversion Therapy is a therapy to remove an undesireable behaviour such as gambling, smoking, alcoholism etc

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The three components of Aversion Therapy

  • Counter Conditioning
  • Covert Sensitisation
  • Use of Drugs
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Counter Conditoning

  • Aims to replace the original pleasant assosciation with a new unpleasant assosciation.
  • Uses classical conditioning.
  • Client is given an aversive stimulus (e.g. an electric shock) causes an unpleasant reaction
  • During aversion therapy the aversive stimulus is repeatedly paired with the addictions. 
  • After counter conditioning the client now has a new conditioned assosciation for the addiction now has a conditioned response (the unpleasant feeling e.g feeling sick)
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Covert Sensitisation

  • Client imagines the unpleasant stimulus rather than being exposed to it.
  • The therapist asks the client to imagine unpleasant situations that gets progressively worse.
  • Example - An alcoholic could imagine feeling sick, being sick, being sick on someone else, then fall over and seriously hurt themselves. 
  • This is the least common way of delivering aversion therapy.
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Use of Drugs

  • To create a negative assosciation 
  • Most commonly used to treat alcoholism
  • Takes 10 minutes to react with alcohol.
  • Causes unpleasant reactions such as heart palpatations, vomiting, sweating, headaches etc.
  • The client will have a new conditioned assosciation for alcohol and therefore no longer drink. 
  • They will likely avoid triggers like pubs and parties where people may be drinking to avoid feeling sick (negative reinforcememnt)
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