Judicious Use of Safety Behaviors in terms of Attention Bias and Start Timing of Safety Behaviors in Undergraduates with Specific Phobia Symptoms during Exposure Therapy

[Speaker] Ito, Risa:1
[Co-author] Kaneko, Yui:1, Suyama, Haruna:1,2, Sato, Hideki:1, Suzuki, Shin-ichi:3
1:Graduate School of Human Sciences, Waseda University (Japan), 2:Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Japan), 3:Faculty of Human Sciences, Waseda University (Japan)

Exposure therapy is traditionally recommended to eliminate safety behaviors; however, several investigations have found that exposure with and without safety behaviors is equally effective. The effects of safety behaviors might depend on (1) degree of attention bias and (2) degree of fear experienced at the moment the behavior started. This study compares the therapeutic effects of safety behavior utilization (1) with or without attention being directed toward feared stimuli, and (2) before or after the peak of fear during exposure to a perceived threat. Participants were undergraduate students with a fear of cockroaches, who took part in one exposure trial. Assessments were conducted at pretreatment, during the exposure trial, at posttreatment, and at a 1-month follow-up. The main outcome was scores on the Subjective Units of Distress Scale regarding about the fear of cockroaches. This study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Waseda University.
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