Psychological Treatment of Phobic disorders

Systematic desensitisation and CBT

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1. What did McGrath et al. find?

  • 75% of patients responded well to SD
  • After 12 weeks of SD, aerophobics somatic and psychological effects were reduced during a flight simulation apart from 2 participants
  • There's no evidence to support substitution of symptoms in SD
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2. What Ohman et al. state?

  • SD cannot treat all phobias as some are caused by evolutionary survival factors based on ancient fears that were used to aid survival in hunter-gatherer times so the phobia is harder to remove considering SD is based upon past experience
  • There's no evidence of substitution of symptoms in SD
  • 75% of patients responded well to SD
  • Those with disorders had accurate predictions of the likelihood of an natural disaster

3. Limitation of SD

  • Instead of removing symptoms, the symptoms are just substituted for new symptoms which then must be treated also
  • Takes too long to carry out, disorders may need to be immediately treated

4. What is pragmatic disputing?

  • Challenging self-defeating thoughts based upon the idea that irrational thoughts are inconsistent with reality
  • Challenging irrational thoughts based upon the idea that these thoughts aren't helpful
  • Challenging irrational thoughts based on logic

5. An issue of CBT

  • Unable to treat phobias based on evolutionary survival factors
  • Involves lots of cognitive processes on the part of the patient this may be inappropriate for those with severe learning difficulties or severe phobic disorders, unlike SD which may be more appropriate reducing CBT's population validity
  • SD is more effective in treating phobias


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