Treatment of Phobias

Updated December 27, 2021

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Treatment of Phobias essay

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Research conducted by Joseph Wolpe provides interesting methods of attempting to treat clients for anxiety disorders. Not just any anxiety disorders though, as Wolpe mainly focused on treating patients of Phobias. Wolpe though phobias were formed at some point throughout one’s life through classical conditioning. The purpose of this study was to bring about success in ridding neuroses of patients through a theory called Systematic Desensitization or decreasing one’s fear/anxiety of something gently and gradually through classical conditioning.

Wolpe used this method in attempts to cease all three types of phobias from remaining in the specific patients by reaching super relaxed states which in turn, cancel out all anxious feelings. This systematic desensitization is called reciprocal inhibition, which Wolpe implies that during a deeply relaxed state, you can’t also feel eager at the same time. While many Freudian Psychologists conflicted with Wolpe over his ideas, many also saw Wolpe as the one to perfect systematic desensitization as well as successfully apply it as a treatment for anxiety disorders.

The study was on 150 people, and Wolpe reported on 39 random cases from the study. His method was known as relation training, and the first couple sessions weren’t focused on the patient’s phobias but rather how to achieve a deeply relaxed state consistently. The next step after this was for the patients to make lists from the least anxiety-provoking situations, to most highly anxiety-provoking situations.

After this, the patient was required to achieve the relaxed state and listen to to the instructor read off the list one scenario by the next. If at any point the patient felt the slightest bit of anxiety, they had to put their index finger up and achieve the relaxed state all over again. The instructor would start one bullet point lower than the last one they failed on, and you would be completed by the time the entirety of the list was read, and you felt zero anxiety.

The average number of sessions it took to rid the clients of their phobias successfully was 12.3 sessions. Of 39 people reported from the case by Wolpe, 91% of the phobias were while only 9% remained after it was over. Critics claimed that Wolpe just treated the symptoms of those said patients, and didn’t address the underlying anxiety-causing issues. Wolpe responded to these by providing follow-ups from four years after the experiment stating that 25-35 of the 39 people reported in the case claimed to have no follow-up instances, phobia relapses, or new phobias developing.

This was a great study, and shows us a lot about Phobias. It shows us that Phobias often are learned through experiences in life and that we can rid the phobias the same way. Classical conditioning has a tremendous impact on what we allow our brains to think and if we ever find ourselves having any phobias, classical conditioning may be the answer to defeating them. Relaxation training seems to be a pretty useful tool in limiting how much anxiety you allow yourself to feel in different scenarios. It also shows us that just because specific experiences in life shape us to think one way, we may think it will be hard or even impossible to change that perspective when Wolpe proved to us, that this is not the case, and anything learned can be unlearned.

Treatment of Phobias essay

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Treatment of Phobias. (2021, Dec 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/treatment-of-phobias/


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