Ever since Winston Churchill popularised the phrase Black Dog to describe the bouts of depression he experienced for much of his life, it has become the shorthand for the disease that millions of people suffer from, often in shame and silence.
This book owes its existence to an ideal, a burning frustration, and a trusted believer. The ideal was the sense that governed my feelings about systematic desensitization during my early introduction to its benefits. It is hard to put into words the initial doubts that pervaded me during my first attempt with desensitization with a seriously phobic client, as I re- ligiously worked my way through the procedure: "Will this client really become relaxed? And then what-will the visualization actually occur? And then what-will the fear really vanish, just like that?" And oh, the feeling of discovery, and validation, when indeed the process worked, and worked well. Desensitization was everything it was claimed to be: systematic, clean, theoretically grounded, empirically tested, applicable as a behavioral technology regardless of one's own theoretical bias. And there were testable outcomes; concrete evidence for change. So I became invested and aimed at doing more with desensitization. My students and I raised some theoretical questions in order to open the doors for revising the desensitization to improve on its applications. We tested the rapidity with which desensitization could be accomplished, shortening the time by shortening the anxiety hierarchy. Along with others, we studied the question of group delivery, and reducing the total number of sessions, as well as examining the use of audiotaped delivery of services.
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