Systematic Desensitization

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  • A behavioral therapy intended to reduce or eliminate the consequences of phobias. Systematic desensitization follows a three-step therapy. During the first step, the therapist helps the client identify an anxiety hierarchy. To establish the anxiety hierarchy, the person has to list the anxiety-causing stimuli, as related to the specific phobia, in ascending order. The second step involves teaching the person relaxation techniques. While the type of relaxation technique may differ across therapists, what is important is that the person is able to engage in relaxation as directed by the therapist. During the third step, the person will address each item of the anxiety hierarchy while engaging in relaxation techniques. That is, the person imagines the anxiety-causing situation and tries to relax simultaneously. If the imagined ...

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