Stress Innoculation Therapy

Stress Innoculation Therapy

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Stress Innoculation Therapy

Stress Innoculation Therapy is a form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, developed specifically to deal with stress.

Meichenbaum (1985) suggested that a person should develop a form of coping before the problem arises and 'innoculate' themselves against the 'disease' of stress in the same way they would against infections diseases such as measles. He suggested that although we can't usually change the causes of stress in our life, we can change the way that we think about these stressors. He proposed three main stages:

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First stage of Stress Innoculation Therapy

Conceptualisation phase: the therapist and client establish a relationship, and the client is educated about the nature and impact of stress.

For example, the client is taught to view perceived threats as problems to be solved, and breaking down global stressors into specific components that can be coped with. This enables the client to think differently about their problem.

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Second Stage of Stress Innoculation Therapy

Skills Acquistion Phase (and rehearsal): coping skills which are tailored to the client and their problems are taught which are then practiced in the clinic and then gradually rehearsed in real life. These include positive thinking, relaxation, social skills, using social support systems and time management.

Clients may also be taught to use coping self-statements, e.g. 'relax, you're in control'. The skills thaught are both cognitive and behavioural because they encourage the client to think in a different way and involve learning new more adaptive behaviours.

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Third stage of Stress Innoculation Therapy

Application Phase (and follow through): clients are given the opportunity to apply the new learned coping skill in different situations, which become increasingly stressful.

Various techniques may be used as imagery (imagining how to deal with stressful situations), modelling (watching someone else cope with stressors and then imitating the behaviour), and role playing (acting out scenes involving stressors). Clients may also be asked to help train others. Booster sessions are offered later on.

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