Systematic Desensitization

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Date Submitted: 09/01/2011 07:37 PM

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Systematic Desensitization

The mind, body and soul are very much prone to phobias affecting physical, mental and social well being of a person. The person should adopt the right strategy for phobia management depending upon the type of situation. Once the individual is learnt to adopt the style effectively, and mastered he might apply multimodal strategies to combat with the phobias on physical, mental, emotional and behavioral levels. The phobias which are generated by thoughts or perceptions are very well handled by a technique of ‘systematic desensitization’. Systematic desensitization is a type of counter conditioning that educates and masters the client to remain calm and relaxed in the presence of imagined anxiety-inducing stimuli. This procedure consists of three steps and generally requires 10 sessions. The steps are: relaxation training by therapist, constructing an anxiety hierarchy of all related phobias, pairing relaxation with the situations described in the anxiety hierarchy (Sdorow, 2005, p. 527). The person is made to imagine and rethink the perception about the situation that made him anxious. Thus, the person is exposed to the dreaded situation in which he has conditioned response. The systematic desensitization procedure stepwise reduces the intensity of series of responses by relaxation. This technique trains the individual to do psychological adjustment to the perceived threatening situation. It generates incompatible relaxation response which inactivates induced anxiety. To come out of phobia the individual’s irrational thought patterns causing stress, depression, and anxiety are inhibited. Finally, if possible therapist actually exposes his/her client to phobia provoking situation, to evaluate the positive response.

This form of behavioral therapy is administered by a psychotherapist, but can be self-exercised and delivers positive outcome through regular practice (Richmond, 2009). This therapy is effective in treating...