Outline And Evaluate The Behavioural Approach To Treating Phobias A Level Psychology Essay

530 words - 3 pages

Arusha Ezaz Rahman
Emily Browne
6 March 2018
Outline and evaluate the behavioural approach to treating phobia
A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something, which according to the behavioural approach, can be caused by the social learning theory, classical conditioning or even operant conditioning. Phobias cause significant problems in a persons life and it may hamper their ability to cope with the demands of everyday life. For example, if someone is claustrophobic, he or she may not be able to sit in a small classroom while doing an exam as they may not be able to breathe. Phobias can be treated using two methods: Flooding, and Systematic Desensitisation.
Systematic desensitisation method uses counter conditioning to unlearn the response to a situation or object, by eliciting another response such as relaxation. This method has three critical components: Fear hierarchy, relaxation training, and reciprocal inhibition. To begin, the therapist asks the client to rate their fears on a scale of 1 to 100 and put them in order from the smallest fear, to their biggest. (this is the fear hierarchy). The therapist then begins to teach the client relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. After this, they start to go through the fear hierarchy one step at a time, starting from what they are the least scared of, and using the relaxation techniques to help them calm down when they are afraid. There is a lot of evidence to back up this method of treating phobias. For example, a researcher found that 75% of patients with phobias were successfully treated using systematic desensitisation. Another researcher who examined 42 patients with arachnophobia who were treated using this method was less fearful compared to the control group who was only taught relaxation techniques. This shows that this method of systematic desensitisation is effective in treating phobias.
Another method used to treat phobias is called flooding. This is a more extreme method to treating phobias as it involves exposing the person to what their afraid of almost immediately in opposed to systematic desensitisation where it is done gradually. An example of flooding would be something like throwing a can of baked beans directly on someone that is scared of baked beans With flooding, a person is unable to negatively reinforce their phobia and through continuous exposure, anxiety levels decrease. It can be done by actual exposure (ie. A man who is scared of baked beans will have to touch baked beans) or by imaginary exposure (ie. A man that is scared of baked beans would have to think about how he would react when he has an encounter with baked beans). This method is cost effective and has worked for many people. However, for some people, this can be very traumatic and can cause a high level of anxiety. Some people cannot finish their treatment because their experience is highly traumatic, and which is why this method may be a waste of money. Flooding has been proven to treat simple phobias, how were for phobias like agoraphobia- it has been deemed less effective. Both methods require informed consent from the patient as treating phobias can be stressful.
Homework 1


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