Counter Conditioning

The type of counter-conditioning most widely used for therapeutic purposes is systematic desensitization, to reduce or eliminate fear of a particular object...


Counter conditioning

A classical conditioning procedure in which a stimulus that formerly elicited one response (e.g., pleasure) is conditioned to elicit a different response (e.g., nausea). Sometimes used in the treatment of paraphilias and substance use disorders.

Basically, it involves weakening or eliminating an undesired response by introducing and strengthening a second response that is incompatible with it.


The type of counter-conditioning most widely used for therapeutic purposes is systematic desensitization, to reduce or eliminate fear of a particular object, situation, or activity. An early example of systematic desensitization was an experiment in 1924, by Mary Cover Jones – the treatment of a three-year-old with a fear of rabbits. Jones countered the child's negative response to rabbits with a positive one by exposing him to a caged rabbit while he sat some distance away, eating one of his favorite foods. The boy slowly became more comfortable with the rabbit as the cage was gradually moved closer, until he was finally able to pet it and play with it without experiencing any fear.

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Sources:
Encyclopedia of Psychotherapy_Michel Hersen, William Sledge
http://psychology.jrank.org/pages/152/Counterconditioning.html

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