Generalization of treatment effects with spider phobics : the role of state dependent learning in cognitive therapy
Szymanski, Jeffrey B.
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It has been argued that generalization of treatment effects is an important area of study in the field of psychotherapy. The purpose of this study was to explore the possible role of state-dependent learning in generalization of treatment gains. In other words, does inducing a mood during training, that will be exhibited during the testing or real-life situation, facilitate generalization of treatment? Thirty-two spider phobics participated in this experiment. Subjects' levels of spider phobia were assessed at a pre- and post-test using two self-report measures and a Behavioral Avoidance Test. Results of this study showed that subjects participating in three sessions of cognitive restructuring therapy demonstrated significantly greater improvement than subjects in a no-treatment control condition; however, these subjects did not show greater gains than subjects in a spider facts placebo condition. In addition, the results of this study did not support the hypothesis that inducing an anxious state in subjects while they are learning cognitive restructuring techniques helps generalize the use of these coping skills to a test setting. Limitations of the generalizability of these ABSTRACT results and possible alternative interpretations of the results are discussed.