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Meichenbaum’s self-instructional training

Meichenbaum’s self-instructional training (1976) This approach suggests that behaviour change can be brought about if clients are encouraged to change the instructions they give themselves, in the form of ‘self-talk’, to more adaptive versions. These internal dialogues are externalised during therapy and discussed, then coping strategies are developed to deal with them. These strategies include relaxation, sub-vocal instruction (such as telling yourself to ‘stop!’ the thoughts, called ‘thought-stopping’), and role-playing plans. Self-instructions are especially important in coping with stressful situations, and have led Meichenbaum to develop ‘stress inoculation training’. In this procedure, people are first asked how they think in stressful situations—for example, they may say ‘I can’t cope’. They are then encouraged to develop and practise more positive self-statements such as ‘worrying won’t help’, ‘one step at a time’ and ‘it could be worse’, and reinforcing self-statements such as ‘that was better’. As well as being used in industry for stress management, such procedures have been applied to the treatment of test and speech anxiety, phobias, schizophrenia, and hyperactivity in children.

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