Systematic Desensitization Essay

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.Systematic Desensitization Systematic Desensitization, designed by psychologist Joseph Wolpe, is a behavioral technique, which treats anxiety disorders including phobias. In this procedure, events that cause anxiety are recalled and a relaxation technique is used to lessen the anxiety. Through repetition, the event loses its anxiety provoking power, and these recalled phobias, when faced at the end of treatments, lose their effects to make the client anxious. Plain and simple, the aim of this therapy is to remove the fear response of a person’s phobia, and replace it gradually with a relaxation response to their conditioned stimulus, aka their fear or anxiety. Behavioral Therapies Used in Systematic Desensitization Systematic Desensitization uses counter-conditioning to decrease anxiety symptoms. Counter-conditioning reduces the intensity of a conditioned response, such as anxiety, by establishing an incompatible response, such as relaxation, to the conditioned stimulus. A neutral stimulus arouses anxiety when paired with an unconditioned stimulus, evoking anxiety (Marcia, Rubin, and Efran). Classical conditioning is also used, as it involves learning by association, which is usually the cause of most phobias. Systematic Desensitization deals with the assumption that anxiety arises through classical conditioning by the client’s previous contact with said phobias and their learned reactions to them (Goisman). It also relies on the principle of operant conditioning, due to the slow process of the therapy to get the client accustomed to something until they are used to it. Operant conditioning can be utilized to make permanent behavioral changes, thus helping clients to interact with their phobias without fear (Gelder, Marks, and Wolff). Three Treatment Steps Used With Systematic Desensitization The first step is to have the client develop a fear
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