Is it difficult and anxious for you to be in social situations and to talk to strangers? Is there anything special in life that you are afraid of? Do you feel that this fear or anxiety has affected your quality of life and progress? If the answer to these questions is yes, you can get help from regular desensitization to treat and eliminate these symptoms. In this article, you will read more about this treatment technique, what it means, how it is done, and what side effects it is used to treat. Stay with us.
What is regular desensitization in psychology?
Systematic or systematic desensitization is a subset of behavioral therapy in psychology in which the simultaneous and controlled use of coping with anxious or anxious situations and relaxation techniques can be used to control some types of psychosis, such as Types of phobias, anxiety, post-traumatic stress or fear of something special overcame. This experimental method of confrontational conditioning is used to reduce anxiety caused by a particular stimulus.
What has been said is Joseph Wolpe’s description of the systematic or systematic desensitization treatment he himself invented. He is a South African psychiatrist and one of the pioneers of what is now referred to in psychology as behavior therapy. In the following, we will tell you in a simpler way exactly how this treatment method is used and what disorders and complications it is used to treat.
How exactly is regular desensitization performed?
This treatment has three main stages:
- first stage: Deep muscle release is taught to the patient / client.
- second stage: The patient / client, together with the specialist therapist and under his or her supervision, makes a list of frightening and anxious situations related to a particular problem, such as fear of death or a type of phobia. This list is arranged from the lowest level of fear to the highest level, ie the first case is what the patient or client is least afraid of, and the last case is the one that causes the most fear or anxiety in him.
- third level: The therapist starts with the first item on the list (what the patient or client is least afraid of) and confronts him or her with what he or she is afraid of in reality or fantasy, and asks him or her to use the technique of muscle release. Practice and run.
Muscle release is not compatible with anxiety (that is, it is not possible for both to occur at the same time), so the patient or client learns over time to react more mildly to anxious and terrifying situations; Fear less and suffer less stress or anxiety.
In the first step, you will learn relaxation and muscle release techniques and the like. In the second stage, you make a list of situations that are anxious and frightening for you, and in the third stage, with the help of a specialist therapist, you expose yourself to these situations in different ways, and you learn over time by practicing the techniques you learned in the first stage. How to be less anxious in these situations and deal with them more easily.
In the following, we will examine the details of these steps.
first stage; Deep muscle release techniques
Muscle release and relaxation techniques include the following, depending on the patient or client’s needs and unique circumstances, one or more of these techniques may be used:
- Autogenic relaxation: In this technique you will learn to repeat words, phrases or insinuations in your mind that are soothing to you and help you relax. Repetition of these causes the muscles of the body to become freer over time.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: You will learn how to slowly tighten each muscle group of the body periodically and then release them. Usually the process in this technique is that you start from the toes and gradually go up to reach the muscles of the head and neck.
- Visualization: In this technique, you will imagine an imaginary journey to a calm and relaxing place such as the seaside or a garden.
In addition to the mentioned techniques, there are other strategies for relaxation such as deep breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness techniques. Sometimes the techniques listed above do not work for the therapist, for example, when the goal is to use regular desensitization to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and improve the symptoms associated with the disorder. In these cases, alternative techniques such as the ones mentioned above will be needed.
second stage; Make a list of situations you are afraid of
The list you make at this stage will include 10 anxious situations in which you will experience emotions such as fear or stress. First of all, write down the tenth situation, the situation in which you experience the most intense anxiety you can imagine.
Then write down the first situation that gives you the least amount of anxiety and apprehension. At the end, you start writing the second to ninth situations. Note that this list has an ascending trend, meaning that the higher you go, the more anxious or frightening the situation you write down should be.
The therapist begins with the first situation you write down, and moves on to the next situation when you have been able to stay calm and control your emotions. Continue this process until you reach the last thing noted, the situation in which you experience the greatest amount of anxiety and apprehension.
third level; Facing anxious and frightening situations
This is done in two ways:
- Mental visualization of a frightening situation: The therapist helps the client or the patient to mentally and imaginatively place themselves in an anxious and terrifying situation.
- Real exposure to the source of fear and anxiety: The therapist really puts the client or patient in that position.
There is a third type of exposure to risky situations that has been made possible by virtual reality technology and has been used as a treatment in recent years. Virtual reality can be a prelude to preparing the patient or client before being exposed to a terrifying or anxious situation in the real world. Using this treatment technique can be especially helpful in regular desensitization for children who are more vulnerable and sensitive than other age groups.
What disorders is regular desensitization used to treat?
The main application of regular or systematic desensitization is to improve symptoms and treat psychological disorders and various phobias. Here are some examples of the most important disorders that can be improved and overcome over time with the help of this treatment method:
- Types of phobias (agoraphobia or fear of leaving the house, claustrophobia or fear of closed environments, etc.);
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- Types of fear (fear of the dark, fear of being indoors, fear of animals such as snakes or spiders, fear of flying, etc.);
- Panic attacks;
According to research and studies on American soldiers who have returned from service and are suffering from post-traumatic anxiety / stress, regular desensitization, in addition to the disorders listed, can also be helpful in improving such moods and feelings:
- feel guilty;
- Negative beliefs about general health.
Of course, in these cases, the patient or client must attend regular treatment sessions and the number of sessions will be more than usual.
How many sessions are needed for the effectiveness of systematic desensitization?
The answer to this question largely depends on how severe the disorder is and how it has progressed. Before starting the treatment process and depending on your goal, your therapist will tell you that you will probably need several sessions of treatment.
You will usually see positive results in the treatment process after attending 4 to 6 sessions, for example if regular desensitization is used to relieve separation anxiety and improve symptoms. But sometimes, for example, for people with severe and chronic phobias, it may take at least 12 sessions of treatment to get results.
An example of a regular desensitization function for a real disease
Consider a student suffering from social anxiety. A student who has a high heart rate, fear, and stress when he or she thinks about giving the wrong answer or getting permission to go to the bathroom. A person who does not talk in the classroom or flirt with others to avoid being in situations that he or she believes will embarrass him or her.
If such a person wants to use regular desensitization to treat his complication, according to what has been described so far, he will first get acquainted with the techniques of relaxation and muscle release and the like.
Then he has to make a list of situations that are anxious and frightening for him. Suppose the first item on his list is to start a conversation with someone he does not know. According to the instructions of this treatment method, first of all, he should imagine such a situation in his mind (talking to someone he does not know) and while doing this, whenever he is stressed and anxious, he should use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing so that he can relax. Recover.
The next step is to do this in real life and talk to strangers outside the treatment clinic. It will be easier for him to do this after about a week and over time.
Then he has to go to the next anxious situation he has written down in his list. Suppose you make eye contact with someone you talk to all the time. In the same way, he goes through frightening and anxious situations one by one, and when doing these things in real life, whenever he is stressed and anxious, he uses the relaxation techniques learned in the treatment clinic.
Suppose the last item on the list is a comment on the topic discussed in class. When he raises his hand to allow himself to speak, his heart rate will probably rise and he will become stressed. At this point he should take a deep breath, release his muscles, regain his composure as much as possible, and start talking.
Such fears and anxieties can be overcome over time by practicing and being in a position in real life.
in the end
It is also difficult for ordinary people to deal with fears and anxious situations, let alone psychological disorders such as phobias, anxiety or panic. Regular desensitization is an effective and practical treatment that helps these people learn how to take control of the situation in these daunting situations and be able to do their job well while staying calm.
what is your opinion? Have you experienced the use of regular or systematic desensitization techniques? To what extent has it been effective in treating and improving the symptoms of the disorder? Do you recommend attending treatment sessions to others?
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