Flooding And Cognitive Behavior Therapy

by Joan Shine - Date: 2008-08-23 - Word Count: 769 Share This!

One simple form of exposure treatment is that of flooding, where the person is immersed in the fear reflex until the fear itself fades away. The key is keeping the patients in the feared situation long enough that they can see that none of the dreaded consequences they fear actually come to pass.

This type of treatment is very intense and cannot be handled by all phobics. Flooding should only be conducted by a trained therapist to counteract any reaction the patient cannot handle.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Exposure therapy is a part of cognitive behavior therapy which is the umbrella term for the type of treatment this is. What cognitive behavior therapy does is cause the sufferer to gain more information both about what frightens them and how to overcome it by using facts and reality based techniques.

Cognitive behavior therapy combines two very effective kinds of psychotherapy - cognitive therapy and behavior therapy.

Behavior therapy helps you weaken the connections between troublesome situations and your habitual reactions to them. These reactions can include fear, depression or rage, and self-defeating or self-damaging behavior. It also teaches you how to calm your mind and body, so you can feel better, think more clearly, and make better decisions.

Cognitive therapy teaches you how certain thinking patterns are causing your symptoms - by giving you a distorted picture of what's going on in your life, and making you feel anxious, depressed or angry for no good reason, or provoking you into ill-chosen actions.

When combined into CBT, behavior therapy and cognitive therapy provide you with very powerful tools for stopping your symptoms and getting your life on a more satisfying track. The two most powerful levers of constructive change (apart from medication in some cases) are these . . .

Altering ways of thinking - a person's thoughts, beliefs, ideas, attitudes, assumptions, mental imagery, and ways of directing his or her attention - for the better. This is the cognitive aspect of CBT.

Helping a person greet the challenges and opportunities in his or her life with a clear and calm mind - and then taking actions that are likely to have desirable results. This is the behavioral aspect of CBT.

In other words, CBT focuses on exactly what traditional therapies tend to leave out - how to achieve beneficial change, as opposed to mere explanation or "insight."

It is the general consensus that CBT should be administered by a trained professional. It is generally used to treat depression and anxiety, but can be applied with arachnophobia as well as other phobias. Here are a couple of techniques to try:

1. Distinguish between thoughts and feelings. Make a list of your thoughts with regards to spiders and then next to each thought write down the feelings that accompany that thought (ie. Thought: The spider will bit me; Feeling: Scared, panicky). Your thoughts can create your feelings and even intensify a feeling even more. By distinguishing between the two, you will have a better chance at identifying ways to control your feelings and overcome your fear

2. Learn to change your reactions. Again, we need a list! In one column write a situation (There's a spider in the bathtub). Then write down how you feel about the spider (afraid). In the third column, write what your normal reaction would be (run away). The fourth column is for an alternative behavior (kill the spider). You might be surprised at how many alternate behaviors you'll be able to come across when you have to deal with a spider. With these in mind, you can start trying to use those behaviors.

3. Learn that a thought does not constitute a fact. Some people believe that their thoughts are the last word on the truth. Some thoughts are truth, but not all - not by a long shot! First identify the thought (That spider is poisonous). Well that very well could be, but it bears a little more investigation before jumping to conclusions. Look at the spider (I know that can be hard for some people) and try to identify it using any resources you have available. When you are more calm and equipped with more information, you might see that it's a harmless spider instead of a brown recluse. Then the fear should abate.

As we've said, cognitive behavior therapy usually works best when under the advisement of a mental health professional. It really depends a lot on how intense the fear is and how much it is affecting your life as to whether or not a therapist is necessary. Try some of the techniques above and see how you do with them and make your decision after that.

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