Systematic Desensitisation AO1/AO2 - Frozen style!

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Hi everyone! Today I'm going to talk to you about Systematic Desensitisation (SD) - a psychological therapy for phobic disorders. To help you remember, we're going to use Elsa from Frozen as a case study!


Right: let's say that the phobia that Elsa has come to the therapist to combat is the fear of her own magic. Because really, it is. The therapist suggests a course of SD treatment. Let's break that treatment down into stages:

Step 1: Elsa learns to fully relax with the therapist.

This is important, as she will need to know how to feel truly relaxed in order for the SD to work.

Step 2: Elsa constructs a desensitisation hierarchy, going from least to worst fear.

This means that she'll have to think up a few - let's say seven, for instance - scenarios where she'd really struggle to contain her fear. At the lowest end of the scale would be "I lose control of my powers when I'm on my own" and at the highest end "I lose control of my powers in front of the entire kingdom and really hurt a lot of people."

Step 3: Elsa visualises item 1 on the list, and is taught to calm down.

Of course she'll panic initially, but her therapist will be there to help her put her pre-learned relaxation techniques into action.

Step 4: Elsa learns to relax, and a new association is made.

Rather than immediately jumping to the worst conclusion whenever she thinks about her magic, she learns to relax around it.

Step 5: Elsa moves


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