Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses affecting numerous people all around the world. Research has estimated that around 40 million individuals (in the US alone) suffer from anxiety disorders. In simple words, this represents a full 18% of the total population of the US.
There are numerous types of anxiety disorders, which are highly treatable as well. However, only one-third of those suffering from it choose to go for treatment. Chicago ABA therapy has successfully helped treat common types of anxiety disorders:
Treatment of Anxiety Disorders Through ABA Therapy
ABA therapy uses various techniques in order to reduce anxiety in individuals, by increasing positive reinforcement. Because the type of anxiety differs for each person, each ABA therapy program is tailored to each person’s specific requirements and needs.
Moreover, the length of intervention of this therapy will generally depend on the severity and type of anxiety disorder the individual is suffering from. However, numerous people tend to improve in less than 10 sessions.
Treating Phobias through ABA Therapy
ABA therapy aims to change negative and harmful behaviors in individuals. For instance, if a person has certain phobias and behaviors related to it are harmful, ABA therapists aim to change this.
Moreover, in case a person is suffering from a common phobia called agoraphobia, the ABA therapist will help them face the feared situations, step by step. For instance, the patient will go on small walks with the Aba therapist, in which the therapist will give them support and advice as well on the way. Over time, the length and duration of the walk will increase. And, if possible, they will take a trip to shops and on the bus as well.
In short, the ABA therapist will teach the patient how to control anxiety in public places, especially when they have to face feared situations alone. The therapist will also guide them by using deep breathing techniques when they feel their anxiety leveling up. Mostly, positive reinforcement is used with a combination of exposure therapy.
Thus, numerous techniques are used by ABA therapists to treat anxiety disorders, depending upon the conditions, as well as the circumstances.
Treating Panic Attacks through ABA Therapy
Panic disorder is a common type of anxiety disorder, which occurs suddenly, and without warning and any reason. An individual suffering from this type of anxiety disorder has recurring panic attacks.
However, ABA therapy helps treat this type of anxiety disorder through repeated and prolonged exposure. Exposure to feared bodily sensations (for instance, interoceptive exposure) is used by ABA therapists to treat this type of anxiety disorder.
Interoceptive exposure is used by therapists to help people confront their feared bodily symptoms that are associated with anxiety, such as an increased heartbeat, twitching, shortness of breath, and so on.
Fortunately, there are many Dallas physical therapy clinics that aim to help their patients hyperventilate for a short period of time, encourage them to exercise, and teach various breathing techniques. All these procedures aim to alleviate symptoms of this anxiety disorder.
Treating Selective Mutism through ABA Therapy
Selective mutism is also an anxiety disorder common in many individuals. In this disorder, a person fails to speak in particular situations in public. Children, mostly, fail to speak anywhere outside their own homes, for instance, at school, at parks, or even in restaurants.
However, Chicago ABA therapy helps treat this type of anxiety disorder. Firstly, ABA therapists use behavioral strategies that involve step-by-step plans where the person practices difficult speaking-type behaviors. Positive reinforcement is also used by therapists to accomplish those behaviors.
Shaping reinforcement is also used as part of ABA therapy to help treat this disorder. This type of reinforcement is provided for approximations of target verbal behaviors in individuals, such as whispering, mouthing specific words, and so on. A reinforcement menu is prepared that includes the type of behaviors a child wants to earn, and for what specific behaviors.
Furthermore, stimulus fading interventions will also be used in ABA therapy, which is particularly built on the success of contingency management, as well as shaping. This gradually increases the number of people and places in which speech will be rewarded. For instance, a child will first be rewarded for speaking to a classmate at school, and then outside of school. Gradually, more people will be introduced into this group. Stimulus fading is also commonly used in various problematic situations that normally occur outside of school, such as talking to an extended family member, ordering at restaurants, and so on.
Systematic desensitization is also another common technique used by ABA therapists to treat this type of anxiety disorder. This includes the use of relaxation skills, as well as gradual exposure to anxiety-provoking situations. A hierarchy will be designed by the therapist that will include all the feared situations, and each is faced one at a time.
Social skills will also be learned in this therapy, which will greatly help a person learn essential skills needed in order to communicate with others. They will also learn how to initiate conversations, how to keep eye contact, how to choose topics, how to take turns, and so on.
Lastly, self-modeling is also used by ABA therapists, which particularly involves making specific videos or audiotapes, edited in a way that depicts the child speaking in settings in which he/she previously remained quiet. These audios or videos are played repeatedly in the intervention, till the child becomes totally accustomed to hearing himself/herself speak in these specific situations. This way, the child will start to believe in his/her ability to overcome their fear.
Treating PTSD through ABA Therapy
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is another common anxiety disorder, which mainly results from past traumatic experiences and exposure to stress. Numerous studies in 2012 and 2013 have shown how exposure therapy conducted through ABA therapy’s techniques greatly helped in reducing PTSD symptoms experienced by returning Veterans from wars.
ABA therapy uses techniques that increase mindfulness skills in individuals. Moreover, ABA therapy techniques are also incorporated into a 7-week long program that helps treat symptoms of anxiety and depression.