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Behav Res Ther. 1997 Aug;35(8):721-32.

One-session group therapy of spider phobia: direct versus indirect treatments.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Sweden.


Forty-six patients with spider phobia, fulfilling the DSM-IV criteria for specific phobia, were assessed with behavioral, physiological and self-report measures. They were randomly assigned to three group treatment conditions: (1) direct treatment; (2) direct observation; and (3) indirect observation. All treatments were carried out in large groups of eight patients, and consisted of one 3 hr session of massed exposure and modelling. The results showed that on the behavioral test, measures and the specific self-report measures of spider phobia the direct treatment was significantly better than direct observation and indirect observation, which did not differ. On the physiological measures and the psychopathology self-report measures there were significant pre-post improvements, but no differences between the groups. The effects were maintained or furthered at the one year follow-up assessment. The proportion of clinically significantly improved patients were, at post-treatment, 75% in the direct treatment, 7% in the direct observation, and 31% in the indirect observation group. At follow-up, the corresponding figures were 75, 14, and 44%, respectively. The conclusion that can be drawn is that direct treatment is the treatment of choice.

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