Psychological methods of stress management- AS Psychology AQA A

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  • Created by: Michaela
  • Created on: 27-02-13 22:03

Stress Inoculation Therapy (SIT)

STRESS INOCULATION THERAPY: A type of CBT that trains people to cope with anxiety & stressful situations more effectively by learning skills to 'inoculate' themselves against the damaging effects of future stressors.

  • Meichenbaum: Believed that even though we can't change the causes of our stress we can change the way we think about it. 
  • Negative thinking may lead to negative outcomes, i.e. anxiety and depression but postive thinking leads to positive attitudes & feelings
  • This reduces stress and helps us cope in the future
  • Meichenbaum came up with the stress inoculation therapy (SIT) which is a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) developed for dealing with stress
  • It is different from other stress methods because Meichembaum said that an individual should develop a form of coping before the problem comes
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Stress Inoculation Therapy (SIT) continued


  • Meichenbaum came up with 3 main phases to this process: Conceptualisation phase, Skills acquisition phase (and rehearsal) and finally Application phase (and follow-through)
    • Conceptualisation phase: involves the trainer and patient exploring ways in which stressful situations are thought about ---> typically people react to stress by being using negative statements like "I can't do this" making the problem worse
    • Skills acquisition phase: attempts to replace negative self-statements with incompatible positive coping statements ---> learned and then practised, e.g. "Relax, you're in control"
    • Application phase: patients given the opportunities to apply the newly learned coping skills in different situations which become increasingly stressful. Can be done through imagery usage, modelling and role playing. Patients can train others and booster sessions are avaliable later on
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Evaluation of SIT



  • Meichenbaum: compared SIT with systematic de-sensitisation for snake phobia. Both forms of therapy reduced the phobia but SIT was more effective because it helped clients deal with a second, untreated phobia --> shows that SIT can inoculate against future stressful situations as well as offering help in coping with current problems
  • Sheehy and Horan: examined the effects of SIT on anxiety, stress and academic performance of 1st year law students. Participants received 4 weekly sessions of SIT, each lasting 90 minutes. Results showed that all participants who received SIT displayed low levels of anxiety & stress over time.
  • SIT improved their academic rank

Preparation for future stressors

  • Major advantage of method = doesn't deal with current stressors but also gives the clients the skills & confidence to cope in the future. Focus on skills acquisition = good --> long-lasting effectiveness
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Time-consuming & needs high motivation

  • SIT takes a lot of time, effort, money and motivation. But Meichenbaum has shown the effectiveness of brief periods of therapy, e.g. victims of sexual assault/preparing patients for surgery 

Unnecessarily complex

  • Effectiveness may be due to some elemnts of the training rather than all of it, meaning that the range of activities could be reduced without losing much of the effectiveness. E.g. it may be as effective to just learn to talk more postively and relax more
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Hardiness Training

HARDINESS TRAINING: The aim of hardiness training is to increase self-confidence and sense of control so that individuals can successfully navigate change in their lives

  • Maddi: Founded the Hardiness Institute in California
    • Focusing: Client taught how to recognise the biological signs of stress, i.e. muscle tension and increased heart rate & also to identify the sources of this stress
    • Reliving stress encounters: Client relives stress encounters and is helped to analyse these situations and their response to them --> gives them an insight into current coping strategies and how they might be more effective than they thought
    • Self-improvement: Insights gained can now be used to move forward and learn new techniques of dealing with stress
      • Client is taught to focus on seeing stressors as challenging that they can control instead of seeing it as a problem they must give in to
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Sorry that I couldn't add the evaluation for hardiness training! hope you still find this helpful :-)

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