Saturday, July 7, 2012
Face Your Fear: Flooding Therapy
Out of all the treatments used to cure phobias I found the flooding technique the most interesting. Powell et al. (2009) describes flooding as a behavioral therapy that involves the patient being face to face with their phobia for a prolonged period of time. The patient literally faces their greatest fear. This is obviously an unorthodox treatment but it seems to be effective in certain cases. It is completely different from the systematic desensitization treatment of phobias which seems to gradually countercondition a person's phobia. The idea is that the patient will be faced with their phobia for such an intense period of time that the stimulus causing the phobia will be extinct. The patient in the video below suffers from a fear of heights, and his phobia is clearly interfering with his life. As the video shows the therapist wastes no time in treating the patient's phobia with this technique and literally makes him climb the steps of a tall cathedral during their first session. I also found it interesting that the doctor points out that the the anxiety attack the person will suffer from can only last a certain amount of time. The body can only exert so much energy, and the intense anxiety doesn't last forever. Perhaps flooding cures a person's phobia once they force themselves to go through the anxiety attack, and get over that hump they never allowed themselves to through before.