The behavioural approach to treating phobias

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  • The behavioural approach to treating pobias: 
  • AO1:
  • Systematic desensitisation (SD) 
  • This is based on classical conditioning and reciprocal inhibition. The therapy aims to gradually reduce anxiety through counterconditioning: the phobia is learned so that phobic stimulus (conditioned stimulus, CS) produces fear (conditioned response, CR). CS is paired with relaxation and this becomes the new CR. Reciprocal inhibition - it isn't possible to be afraid and relaxed at the same time, so one emotion prevents the other. 
  • Formation of an anxiety heirarchy. Patient and therapist design an anxiety heirarchy - a list of fearful stimuli arranged in order from least to mst frightening. An arachnophobic (fear of spiders) might identify seeing a picture if a small spider…


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