Behavioral Techniques to Reduce Relapse After Exposure Therapy

Mario A. Laborda, Bridget L. McConnell and Ralph R. Miller

in Associative Learning and Conditioning Theory

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199735969
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894529 | DOI:
Behavioral Techniques to Reduce Relapse After Exposure Therapy

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Pavlovian phenomena have long served as models for the etiology, treatment, and relapse from treatment of diverse disorders (e.g., phobias, addictions). Here, the chapter briefly reviews Pavlovian conditioning models of anxiety disorders, experimental extinction models of exposure therapy, and recovery from extinction models of relapse following exposure therapy. It then focuses on how research on experimental extinction has led to the development of specific behavioral techniques to reduce recovery from extinction and hence relapse from exposure therapy. These techniques include conducting extinction treatment in multiple contexts, giving a massive amount of extinction, increasing the time between extinction trials and between extinction sessions, administering extinction in the presence of a second excitor, and testing in the presence of a retrieval cue from extinction. It is concluded that these behavioral techniques, all of which were discovered in the experimental laboratory, are potent and important tools to be considered by psychotherapists trying to make their patients less susceptible to relapse.

Keywords: Pavlovian conditioning; extinction; renewal; spontaneous recovery; exposure therapy; relapse

Chapter.  15377 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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