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Behavioural experiments of generalized anxiety disorder

Behavioural experiments generally involve testing predictions about physical, social or psychological danger that involve a combination of exposure plus disconfirmatory manoeuvres or survey-based techniques. As with all cognitive techniques the principal focus is belief change, so experiments should be designed that specify a clear hypothesis from the client, followed by a task that tests out the belief in an appropriate setting. An example relevant to OCD might involve a client expressing the hypothesis: ‘If I don’t wash all my food thoroughly I’ll get food poisoning.’ Here the experiment would involve not washing a certain amount of food sufficient to activate the thoughts, eating and ‘waiting to see what happens’.

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