• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Outline and evaluate behavioural therapies to treat mental disorders.

Extracts from this document...


"Some Psychologists claim that behavioural therapies are unethical and of limited value because they treat symptoms rather than causes" Discuss behavioural therapies for treating mental disorders with reference to those such as those raised in the quote above (30 marks) The behavioural model of abnormality makes a number of assumptions in relation to the causes of abnormal behaviour. Firstly the model assumes that inappropriate behaviour is learned and therefore it can be 'unlearned' and more appropriate behaviours learnt instead. Two ways behaviourists believe that behaviour is learnt is through classical and operant conditioning, and as a result various therapies have stemmed from these methods of learning. From classical conditioning, where behaviour is learnt through association the therapies such as implosion, flooding, aversion therapy and systematic desensitisation have been developed. Implosion and flooding are similar techniques used with anxiety-producing disorders. Both therapies expose the client to the feared experience but in slightly different ways. ...read more.


The therapist designs a hierarchy to work through with the patient with easier tasks to overcome at the bottom and the ultimate goal at the top. They patient and therapist then systematically work through this hierarchy. From operant conditioning the therapy of token economies has been developed. A token economy changes behaviour by reinforcing good behaviour with 'tokens'. The token is a secondary reinforcer, which is later exchanged for a primary reinforcer, for example a chocolate bar or other treat. These behavioural therapies are appropriate for a number of disorders, in particular anxiety disorders such as phobias and OCD. Token economies are also particularly suited to treating eating disorders. Flooding and Implosion however are not suitable for children. A benefit of both classical and operant conditioning therapies, are that they are short in duration making them cheaper and more accessible to people unlike treatments such as psychoanalysis under the psychodynamic model which take a long time. ...read more.


In token economies however patients have very little control over their therapies. This raises ethical issues as informed consent is not achieved for token economies, instead they are enforced with or without the patients consent. Token economies are also open to abuse and can be deemed as a form of social control. Classical conditioning therapies also raise ethical issues in terms of putting their patients at risk of emotional harm. Other problems with classical conditioning therapies include the fact that some patients may not have a vivid enough imagination for flooding, and social desensitization may be difficult to arrange and control, whereas token economies are practical as they can be done anywhere. A problem with token economies though, is that changes are due to external rewards and not an innate desire to change and so if the rewards are removed the positive behaviour may cease. Finally debate will also continue whether the treatments provided by the behavioural model only treat the symptoms and not the causes, and if only the symptoms are treated, does it matter? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Classical and Operant Conditioning

    3 star(s)

    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.

  2. Outline and Evaluate the Biological, Psychodynamic and Cognitive Explanations of Abnormality

    In some cases it is difficult to prove that a person has even suffered a traumatic experience in childhood. Elizabeth Loftus carried out research into the theory of 'false memories', where it has been seen to be possible for a therapist to implant an idea into a vulnerable client's memory

  1. Eating disorders

    unduly influenced by body shape and weight, someone suffering from Bulimia has an inappropriate perception of his/her body. Different from Anorexia: Because purging or other compensatory behaviour follows the binge-eating episodes, people with bulimia are usually within the normal range of weight for their age and height.

  2. Atypical Psychology: Describe and Evaluate Perspectives of Psychological Disorders (Studies and Theories).

    (Coordination Group Publications 2009; Richard Gross 2010). The social causation hypothesis states that people with low social status are more likely to suffer from either schizophrenia or depression, equally factors such as poverty and discrimination cause higher stress levels which are thought to be potential triggers. Harrison et al (2001)

  1. Outline and evaluate therapies from the Psychodynamic approach used to treat mental disorders.

    Linked to free association is word association in which the analyst will read a list of neutral and emotionally charged words to the analysand to which they have to say the first word which comes to mind. The analyst looks for unusual responses, hesitations and mental blocks to determine where potential problems lie.

  2. Free essay

    Discuss the range of methods available to the psychologist.

    does not know that they are part of a study or that data is being taken. Confidentiality is law in 1984 it was put in the data protection act. This means that participants have the right to expect that the information they give remains confidential and that they remain anonymous.

  1. Consider the Problems Faced by Psychologists in the Definition of Abnormality

    they are deemed to be abnormal according to deviation from social norms. An example of such deviation may be relevant to a person suffering with schizophrenia- they may display inappropriate emotions, such as laughing after receiving bad news. This definition is useful for everyday recognition of psychological abnormality- when a


    sciences such as medicine and evidence to support their research is derived from empirical scientific research. The role of hormones and neurotransmitters is more widely understood with evidence to show biochemical as well as genetic factors associated with some mental disorders.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work