Describe and evaluate behavioural treatments for phobias

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Topics: Fear, Anxiety, Phobia
Describe and evaluate behavioural treatments for phobias? (10 marks)
The behavioural treatments for anxiety disorders such as phobias aim to extinguish the association between the anxiety provoking situations and the patient’s responses to it. This is done in treatment methods such systematic desensitisation and flooding. Within these treatments classical conditioning is used to change your behaviour by associating undesirable behaviour with something unpleasant or associating desirable behaviours with something pleasant, this allows abnormal or undesirable behaviours to be removed through conditioning. In both of these treatments they are sectioned into two types of treatment; in vivo which is exposure to the real life object; and vitro which is imagining being exposure to the real life object. An important feature of behavioural therapy is its focus on current problems and behaviour, and its attempts to remove what a patient finds troublesome. Although, this contrasts greatly with the psychodynamic therapy (Freud) where Freud’s aim is much more on trying to uncover unresolved conflicts from a patient’s childhood which he believes is the cause of abnormal behaviour.
Firstly, Wolpe’s treatment of systematic desensitisation uses counter-conditioning which allows a fear response to be replaced by another emotional response. Within his treatment a number of sessions may be required, so that a goal can be meet between the patient and therapist to show that the therapy is successful and that a goal has been reached. He believes a phobia can be unlearnt by replacing the fear response with a relaxed response as it is not possible to feel anxious and relaxed at the same time which is called reciprocal inhibition.
He believes there are 4 stages for systematic desensitisation which need to be completed for the treatment to be successful. The first step is functional analysis which is firstly discovering the nature of the anxiety and the possible triggers which have allowed

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