Behaviour therapy

A collection of techniques, based on psychological theory, for changing abnormal behaviour or treating anxiety. The treatment relies on 2 basic ideas: that exposure to a feared experience under safe conditions will render it less threatening, and that desirable behaviour can be encouraged by using a system of rewards. Specific behaviour therapy techniques include exposure therapy (also called desensitization), response prevention, flooding, and modelling. Exposure therapy is commonly used to treat phobic disorders such as agoraphobia, animal phobias, and flying phobias. It consists of exposing the patient in stages to the cause of the anxiety. The patient is taught to cope with anxiety symptoms by using relaxation techniques. In flooding, the patient is confronted with the anxiety-provoking stimulus all at once, but with the support of the therapist. In response prevention, the patient is prevented from carrying out an obsessional task; the technique is used in combination with other methods. In modelling, the therapist acts as a model for the patient, performing the anxiety-provoking activity first, in order that the patient may copy.


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