Monday, October 28, 2019

Classical and Operant Conditioning Essay Example for Free

Classical and Operant Conditioning Essay Behavioural therapies emerged in the 1950s. The main assumption of the behavioural view is that abnormal behaviour is acquired in the same way as normal behaviour, through the principles of Classical and Operant Conditioning. Behavioural therapy is usually targets at specific, well-delineated anxiety disorders such as phobias and compulsions.  One therapy that is used through Classical Conditioning is Systematic Desensitisation. Classical Conditioning is learning that occurs through association. Systematic Desensitisation is used for people with phobias as it de-conditions phobias using relaxation and gradual contact. Individuals might learn that their feared stimulus was not so fearful after all if they could only re-experience the feared stimulus but the anxiety it creates blocks such recovery. This is overcome by introducing the feared stimulus gradually. In this type of behavioural therapy, based on the principle of counter-conditioning, a fearful person imagines a series of progressively more fearsome situations while he or she is deeply relaxed. The responses of relaxation and fear are incompatible, and the fear is eventually dispelled. The use of Systematic Desensitisation was first developed by Wolpe in the 1950s. Systematic Desensitisation enables individuals to overcome their anxieties by learning to relax n the presence of stimuli that once made them unbearably nervous and afraid. Wolpes basic idea was to replace one response (fear) with another (relaxation). This is particularly useful for treating psychological problems in which anxiety is the main difficulty for example phobias, shyness etc. The mode of action of Systematic Desensitisation is that in the early days of Systematic Desensitisation, patients would learn to confront their feared situations. They would gradually overcome their fears by learning to relax in the presence of objects or images that would normally arouse anxiety. Today, this is not the case, the therapists ask the subject to imagine the presence of the feared stimulus rather than actually presenting it. Systematic Desensitisation typically involves steps. First, patients are taught how to relax their muscles. Then the therapist and patient construct a hierarchy, the patient gradually works their way up the hierarchy, visualising each anxiety-evoking event while engaging in the completing relaxation responses. Once one step is mastered they move to the next step, continuing up the hierarchy until they have mastered their feared situation. Research has found that Systematic Desensitisation is successful for a range of anxiety disorders e.g. about 75% of patients with phobias responded to this method of therapy (McGrath et al, 1990). However spontaneous recovery (recovery without treatment) from phobias has been found to be as high as 50-60% (McMorran et al, 2001). This shows that Systematic Desensitisation may contribute little to recovery. Systematic Desensitisation has also been used with OCD patients. The technique of exposure and response prevention has an effectiveness of 60-90% of adults with OCD (Albucher et al, 1998) this is where patients are exposed to the objects or situations that trigger obsessions and are then prohibited from engaging in their usual compulsive response. All behavioural therapies have their roots in learning theory, which has its own roots in experiments with non-human animals. Wolpes (1958) initial research was with cats. He created a phobia by placing them in cages and administering repeated electric shocks. He could then reduce their learned anxiety response by placing food near a cage that was similar to the original. The act of eating apparently diminished the anxiety response; the cats could gradually be placed in cages more and more similar to the original cages without symptoms of anxiety. Human anxiety may not always respond in the same way. Systematic Desensitisation did not cure the phobia of one woman treated for a fear of insects (Wolpe 1973). It turned out that her husband, with whom she had not been getting along with was nicknamed after an insect. Her fear was therefore not the result of conditioning but a means of representing her marital problems. Marital counselling was recommended to her, which succeeded where Systematic Desensitisation had failed.  One therapy that is used through Operant Conditioning is Token Economy. Operant Conditioning is making a conscious association with the consequences of a behaviour e.g. behaviour that is rewarded is more likely to be repeated. The use of Token Economy is a behaviour modification procedure in which patients are given tokens for socially positive behaviour, these being withheld when unwanted behaviours are exhibited. The tokens can then be exchanged for desirable items and activities such as sweets. Although Token Economy programmes were widespread in the 1970s, they became largely restricted to wards being prepared for transfer into the community. A particularly widespread use of Token Economy at the time was for changing the negative symptoms of schizophrenia poor motivation, poor attention and social withdrawal (McMonagle and Sultana, 2001). In educational setting, the Token Economy system is an important part of classroom management, where it is used to build up and maintain appropriate classroom performance and behaviour.

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