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PSYA02H3 Lecture Notes - Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Virtual Reality, Covert Conditioning

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Steve Joordens

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PSYA02 March 25, 2013
Previously, therapy was about dealing with your thoughts and finding the problems that
cause your psychological issues. Psychodynamic. Even with the humanistic
approach was more about finding solutions to help in day to day.
These days, it‟s more about Classical and Operant Conditioning, Cognitive.
I. Therapies based on Classical Conditioning
Many anxiety disorders (e.g., phobias) are thought to have developed via classical
conditioning. Thus, it should also be possible to use classical conditioning to counter
these disorders
No longer about „talking out‟ the problems
Systematic Desensitization a technique designed to eliminate the unpleasant
emotional response by the feared object or situation and replace it with an incompatible
one = relaxation
You don‟t like a behaviour? Think of the opposite behaviour. Eventually, you
think so much about the opposite behaviour that you can‟t think about the
unwanted behaviour
Take over the sympathetic nervous system with the parasympathetic system
This works pretty well with social anxiety
1. Relaxation
1. Learn to relax
2. Associate the feeling with a trigger
3. Practice using the trigger
2. Hierarchy of Fears
1. Create Hierarchy
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PSYA02 March 25, 2013
2. Go through it slowly, using trigger
3. One cannot progress until they can remain relaxed on the previous
Hierarchy of Fears
Watching someone else public speak
Have others sing “happy birthday” to me
Be asked to give a toast at a small gathering of friends
Find oneself in a position of telling a long story to a group of friends who are
Be asked to give a toast at a formal wedding
Talk about something you know a lot about
Talk about something you know little about This is the end goal
The reason that this is successful is because the person learns that they are in control
of their bodies and their sympathetic nervous system.
Other CC-Based Therapies
In Vivo Exposure: Forcing clients to directly face their fears until their fears extinguish …
very stressful, though not dangerous … usually
Imaginal Exposure: Same idea, except it relies on graphic imagery rather in vivo
experiences (virtual reality)
Aversion Therapy: Pairing a noxious (aversive) stimulus with some undesired behaviour
Therapies Based on Operant Conditioning
Reinforcement of Adaptive Behaviours: If an incompatible behaviour exists, it can be
positively reinforced which causes the elimination of the unwanted behaviour
Kids with their fascination with taking off their clothes. Positively reinforce the
kids wearing clothes.
Token Economies: Using tokens to reinforce desired outcomes (remember over-
justification effect?)
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