B45: Behaviour Modification
Chapter 24: Fear Anxiety Reduction Procedures
DEFINING FEAR AND ANXIETY PROBLEMS
Fear- occurs when a stimulus situation elicits automatic nervous system arousal and the individual engages in behaviour
to void or escape from the stimulus situation
Anxiety- activation of the autonomic nervous system (including rapid heart rate, shallow rapid breathing, and increased
muscle tension). Autonomic arousal is an establishing operation that increases the probability of operant
behaviour involving escape or avoidance responses. Typically some event functions as a conditioned stimulus
(CS) to elicit the automatic arousal as a conditioned response (CR). The operant behaviour functions to escape
from or avoid the CS.
PROCEDURES TO REDUCE FEAR AND ANXIETY
Relaxation training- procedure for teaching a person the skills needed to decrease autonomic arousal (anxiety) by
producing an incompatible state of relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, attention
focusing exercises and behavioural relaxation training are types of relaxation training procedures.
There are four common relaxation training approaches:
Progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, attention focusing exercises and behavioural relaxation training
1.Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
•Progressive muscle relaxation- a relaxation procedure in which the client learns to tense and relax each
of the major muscle groups of the body. By this means, the client decreases muscle tension and autonomic
arousal in the body.
•To use PMR the person must first learn how to tense and relax each of the major muscles of the body.
•The client tenses the muscles tightly for about 5 seconds and then abruptly releases the tension; this
allows the client to feel the contrast between the tension and relaxation in that particular muscle group
•The client focuses on the decreased level of tension in the muscle group for 5-10 seconds and then
moves to the next muscle group on the list
•Diaphragmatic breathing- a type of relaxation exercise in which one engages in slow, rhythmic breathing,
using the diaphragm muscle to pull air deep into the lungs.
•Diaphragmatic breathing decreases anxiety by replacing this breathing pattern with a more relaxed pattern
•To learn this, the person should get in a comfortable position and place a hand on the abdomen.