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Causes of Fears & Phobias - Case Study, Example & Summary PDF Print
Article Index
Causes of Fears & Phobias
Early Childhood Trauma
Psychological Disorders, Genetics, Social Conditioning
Inappropriate Learning - Systematic Desensitisation
Implosion Therapy, Aversion Therapy, Hypnosis
Case Study, Example & Summary
All Pages
Case study – systematic desensitisation

After a false start with a client in 1977, Michael Joseph used systematic desensitisation to successfully remove the nauseating effect experienced over the previous two years that was triggered by any image of Nelson’s column. By using an IMR coupled with a diagnostic scan he was able to pin point the cause of the nausea with the client. Having done so Michael and the client devised a simple Subjective Unit of Disturbance Scale (SUDS) and the following therapy session successfully disassociated the feeling of nausea from the trigger, Nelson’s Column, which was no longer a problem. This was confirmed by GP reports two years later. (European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 1994).

Although the Nelson’s column phobia was reported to be resolved in a very short space of time it is important to understand that some SUDS may contain quite a few scenarios to be addressed and that this may take some considerable time before a satisfactory conclusion is reached.

Ideally there would be 10 to 12 scenarios, although there could be more or less if required. As each session is conducted it is preferable to end with a successful scenario, this helps to build confidence for the client. At the start of the next session always start with the scenario previous to the one you ended on as this will help to reinforce all of the positive successes for the client. In certain instances there may be a need to create some additional intermediate scenarios if any of the progressions are too far apart for the client to respond to effectively.

Therapy is completed when the client’s goal has been achieved or they feel that they cannot progress any further and are happy to cease trying.

Example of Implosive therapy

By hypnotising a client and determining a place or memory when they feel safe and calm, it would be possible to place a bird-eating spider in the hand of an arachnophobic. The extreme fear would eventually subside enough to allow the client to realise that no harm was occurring and that the fear was irrational. This in turn allows further relaxation and the client becomes acclimatised to the feared spider. If the client is unable to relax then they could go to their safe place to allay the anxiety and then try again.

By flooding the phobia in this way it is possible to attain the client’s goal in a short space of time. In a majority of cases this treatment is unpleasant for both the client and the therapist and it is not used as often as it should be, even though it is regarded as the most effective method of treating fears and phobias.

Summary

The majority of fears and phobias appear to be caused by inappropriate learning, and the client is really only concerned at how they can remove the anxiety and/or any symptoms that accompany the fear or phobia. With hypnosis the majority of fears and phobias can be treated effectively, some cases may take longer than others, but the results will always be based on client expectation, which needs to be monitored and managed to obtain the best results. Whilst the techniques are proven to work and provide long-term results, it is the therapist’s responsibility to ensure that the client has realistic expectations and that suitable therapy is designed and used accordingly to achieve the required goals.

© 2002-2008 David Goode


References

HAYES, NICKY. (2000) Foundations of psychology. 3rd Edition. London: Thomson Learning

WOLPE, J. (1958) Psychotherapy by Reciprocal Inhibition. Stanford: Stanford University Press

PYNE, G. (2002) Advanced Practitioner of Clinical Hypnosis. (s.l.)(s.n.)

CARSON, BUTCHER, MINEKA (2000) Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life. 11th Edition. Boston: Allyn & Bacon