Definition: 'Systematic Desensitization'
systematic desensitizationType: Term
1. a type of behavior therapy for eliminating phobias or anxieties: the patient and therapist construct a list of imagined scenes eliciting the phobia, ranked from least to most anxiety producing; the patient is then trained in deep muscle relaxation and repeatedly asked to imagine himself or herself in the presence of the least anxiety-producing scene on the list until the patient feels fully relaxed while doing so; the procedure is repeated for each scene on the list until the patient develops the capacity to feel relaxed with any of the anxiety-producing scenes; real life scenes are then substituted for the imagined scenes.
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