Systematic desensitisation Behaviourist treatment AS
Describe and evaluate this form
What is a phobia?
An exaggerated fear of an object or
According to behaviourism, it is a learned
response to a stimulus
Noise UC + Rat NS
• What do people with phobias do when
they are confronted with their feared
• How do you think we can treat this
disorder without using drugs or talking
An example in everyday life...
of walking in
This therapy aims to extinguish an undesirable
behaviour fear by replacing it with a more
desirable one relaxation .
feel fear and
relaxed at the
How does it work?
It is a step by step
The client learns relaxations
The client works out a hierarchy of
fear from the least frightening to the
The client works
through the hierarchy
learning to use
in the presence of the
Apply the desensitisation hierarchy to
the following scenario:
Alana has an extremely anxious reaction to
spiders. She completely freezes if a
spider is in the room, no matter what the
size. She even struggles with plastic and
cuddly toy spiders. E
xplain how a
behavioural therapist might use SD to
help Alana with her fear of spiders (6
Pair-work (if time)
Think of a phobia and work through hierarchy
and any techniques below to help the patient.
Using systematic desensitisation
What difficulties do you think this
e.g. if someone is afraid of flying – what
difficulty will the therapist have?
To the right are some
aspects of flying that
may cause different
levels of anxiety.
Low Anxiety 1–19
Medium Low Anxiety 20–39
Medium Anxiety 40–59
Medium High Anxiety 60–79
High Anxiety 80–100
Ways to overcome this...
As the clip rolls, make notes on key psychologists’ names
Patient needs to be briefed well, so can give informed
consent. High levels of arousal/ distress possible.
Quicker analysis than drug therapy or lengthy psychoanalysis?
Effect might diminish once removed from lab setting and
positive reinforcement from therapist, high chance of
Psychotic, as opposed to neurotic, disorders?
Disorders with no clearly identifiable behavioural
component? Genetic/ physiological/neurochemical?
Use key words below (textbook 118) to write at least 2
strengths and 2 weaknesses of SD
Depends on the type of
some may be biologically
Phobia workshop – sketch show