Systematic Desensitisation

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Sysytematic desensitisation is a behavioural treatment in which the person is taught relaxation skills, and is then given the oppertunitity to practicew these skills while being gradually introduced to the feared object or situation.

Systematic desensitisation links to the assumption of classical conditioning. The behaviourist approach assumes that we learn behaviours through association. Therefore this approach proposes that phobias are learnt through association. Systematic desensitisation aims to treat phobias by unlearning the phobia using the principles of classical conditioning, this technique was developed by Jones (1924) in the case of ‘Little Peter’ Peter showed an extreme fear of several animals including rats, rabbits and frogs, Jones (1924) used this technique to cure Peter of his phobia.

This technique was then developed further and named systematic desensitisation. This therapy follows several steps, the first two steps being counter-conditioning, firstly the patient is taught to relax their muscles completely so the patient moves from responding to the stimulus with fear


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