Systematic Desensitization

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: jaaaz_v
  • Created on: 22-02-15 14:50

Systematic desensitization is a type of behavioural therapy based on the principle of classical conditioning. It was developed by Wolpe during the 1950s.This therapy aims to remove the fear response of a phobia, and substitute a relaxation response to the conditional stimulus gradually using counter conditioning.

This is done by forming levels of fear, involving the conditioned stimulus (e.g. a spider), that are ranked from least fearful to most fearful.  The patient works their way up starting at the least unpleasant and practicing their relaxation technique as they go.  When they feel comfortable with this (they are no longer afraid) they move on to the next level.

For example, a spider phobic might regard one small spider 5 meters away as only modestly threatening, but a large, rapidly moving spider 1 meter away as highly threatening. The client reaches a state of deep relaxation, and is then asked to imagine (or


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Overcoming Fear resources »