Systematic Desensitization Therapy is a type of behavioral therapy which treats phobias, OCD, PTSD, and anxiety. It uses relaxation and exposure in order to treat extreme fear and aversions. Its used by counter conditioning in order to teach a person a new response to a certain stimuli. The idea behind this is by using relaxation techniques during exposure to a certain stimulus will counteract the flight-or-fight response. Systematic Desensitization uses has three phases connected to it. The first phase entails teaching the client different relaxation techniques that will condition their original response to the aversion stimulus. The next phase is a collaboration between the therapist and client to create a "hierarchy" of intensity to clients different levels of exposure. The last phase desensitizes that stimulus by graded exposure in order for the client to practice the relaxation techniques and reverse their aversions during the exposure. To explain this better and example of desensitization therapy can be seen in someone who has a fear of spiders. During the therapy session the therapist would give the client a list of different scenarios involving spiders and the client would rate the situation on a 1-10 scale ( 1 being the least intense and 10 being the most intense). As they begin to work of the desensitization therapy the therapist would start by simply discussing a spider and lead the client through relaxation techniques. Each session would get a bit more intense by adding pictures, videos, plastic spiders, dead spider, trapped spiders, and eventually live spiders. This would be done gradually while the therapist is continuously guiding the client through different relaxation techniques. This eventually desensitizes the client to the spider and ultimately leads them to be able to handle a spider in real life, rather than being frozen in fear by it.
Nash, J. (2022, December 2). Systematic desensitization steps: 13 techniques & worksheets. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/systematic-desensitization/