Xenophobia is commonly defined as a disorder causing one to be deathly afraid of strangers and being in public areas. a) assuming the role of a successful psychologist, explain how you might use systematic desensitization to help cure a patient of xenophobia. b) if your initial attempts using systematic desensitization fail, what will you prescribe next? Desensitization is awfully similar to classical conditioning in the way that the individual is repeatedly exposed to the stimulus.
The repeated exposure to the stimulus will cause the patient to develop immunity or a numbed feeling for the object that was once perceived as terrifying. As a psychologist, I would personally take the patient that was exhibiting xenophobia in a car to a new location where there was a meeting for people to make new friends (because they are anti-social). This process would be considered “in vivo” because the client is exposed to the phobic stimulus. For the first step, I would have the patient remain inside the car and practice relaxing techniques so he or she can calm down.
It is important to have the person kept at a distance from the activity at first so the patient can understand how non-threatening the situation is. The second step would be having the patient get out of the car and walk a few meters closer to the event so (once again) he or she can realize that the new location as well as the strangers poses no threat. My final step would be to walk in with the xenophobic to the new location and have the patient interact with new people who happen to be in a similar position that he or she is in; therefore, realizing that new faces and places are not something to be terrified of.
Unfortunately, there are those times when therapies fail to work for the patient. If using the “in vivo” process happens to overwhelm the patient, then I would use the “in vitro” process. The “in vitro process” is where you confront your phobia mentally. In my opinion, this is just as beneficial because the individual is still confronting the crippling fear, instead in a mental state rather than physical. Relaxing techniques will provide useful in the “in vitro” technique as well.