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Psychological and physiological methods of stress management

An overview of the two different ways of managing stress
by

Vicky Maile

on 17 March 2015

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Transcript of Psychological and physiological methods of stress management

Psychological stress management
SIT is a form of CBT.
Meichenbaum (1985)
Believed we can change the way we think about the stressors in our lives. As negative thinking may lead to negative outcomes such as anxiety and depression, positive thinking leads to more positive attitudes and feelings. Positive ways of thinking can reduce stress response and help us cope better in the future - it's like having an 'inoculation' against future stress.
SIT - Stress Inoculation Therapy
Put the stages in order and match them to their definitions...
1 Application
2 Feedback
3 Reinforcement
4 Relaxation
Biofeedback
Several methods exist for reducing the physiological effects of stress.
Anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) drugs are commonly used (Benzodiazepines and Beta-Blockers).
Psychotherapeutic drugs
Recap of bodily response to stress
Write down all you can remember about the following, especially the chemicals that are released as a result of the stress response:
SAM (sympathomedullary pathway)
PAS (pituitary adrenal system)
How do we balance the demands of stress?!
Psychological and physiological stress management
Psychological means of stress management
Physiological means of stress management
Psychological methods of stress management aim to identify and rectify underlying causes of stress-related disorders with the focus on how individuals manage their perception of stress.

We will look at SIT as the key method of stress management, but for extended reading you could look at Kobasa's hardiness training (page 18/19 in your booklet).
SIT was developed specifically to deal with stress. It suggests that an individual should develop a form of coping (unlike other treatments) before the problem arises.

There are three main phases of this:
Cognitive preparation/conceptualisation
Skills acquisition and rehearsal
Application and follow through
SIT - Stress Inoculation Therapy
SIT - Stress Inoculation Therapy
Cognitive preparation/conceptualisation
Involves the therapist and patient exploring the ways in which stressful situations are thought about. Typically, people react to stress by offering negative self-statements like 'I can't handle this'. This makes the situation worse.
Skill acquisition and rehearsal (cognitive and physiological techniques)
Attempts to replace negative self-statements with positive coping and reinforcing self-statements. It also involves learning relaxation techniques. These are then learned and practised in role play situations. 
Application and follow through
Involves the therapist guiding the person through progressively more threatening situations that have been rehearsed in actual stress-producing situations.
SIT has been found to be more effective in reducing stress related illness compared to drugs (read the study by Holcomb on page 21).

SIT also has 'positive side effects' in comparison to drug therapies.

SIT takes time, commitment and money!! Therefore not available to everyone!

Some people have argued that it is just the relaxation element of SIT that is beneficial.
Evaluations of SIT
June 2011

Q5a) Name one psychological method of stress management (1)

Q5b) Explains strengths of this psychological method of stress management (5)
5a) As CBT is named on the specification, this is the most likely method that will be given. However, any other psychological method is acceptable, such as relaxation, meditation and biofeedback.

1 mark for identification/naming one method of stress management.

5b) The strengths may refer to the control that is given to the client; the ability to use the techniques in a variety of situations etc. If methods such as relaxation, meditation and biofeedback are given, the strengths must relate to the psychological aspects of the method.

One way of gaining credit is by comparison with physiological methods. For example, psychological methods do not have any side effects and are not addictive. If in 5 (a) candidates write Bex Cognitive Triad or ABC model, but in 5 (b) explain strengths of CBT – zero for part (a) and credit for part (b).
If the biological stress response results in chemical release then how can we control stress biologically?

Think about:
The effect of drugs on the chemical produced by the stress response
The parts of the body drugs would effect
How they could have their effect
Beta-blockers
Beta-Blockers (BBs) work by blocking synaptic receptors which reduces the activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline
Benzodiazepines increase GABA in the body. They work in the same way as beta-blockers.

Find out how GABA works on page 21 of the booklet - what do they do?
Evaluation of drug therapies
Working in pairs/small groups, create a poster that explains the evaluations of the main strengths weaknesses of drug therapies.

Aim to make comparisons to psychological therapies to get bonus points.
A Seeing the feedback change is an instant reward which motivates the patient to repeat the behaviour.

B These skills are then used and may not even need the monitor.

C The patient learns techniques such as deep breathing to reduce heart rate, blood pressure etc.

D The patient uses a machine which provide information about various ANS activities such as skin reactivity or body temperature.
2 Feedback
D The patient uses a machine which provide information about various ANS activities such as skin reactivity or body temperature.

4 Relaxation
C The patient learns techniques such as deep breathing to reduce heart rate, blood pressure etc.

3 Reinforcement
A Seeing the feedback change is an instant reward which motivates the patient to repeat the behaviour.

1 Application
B These skills are then used and may not even need the monitor.
Evaluation of biofeedback
Complete the evaluation table:
Discuss one or more physiological methods of stress management (10)
Task:
Complete a plan for the above question
Read through the model answer and show how you'd mark it using the feedback key and the mark scheme
How stressed did you feel? On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not at all stressed, and 10 being highly stressed.
When you felt stressed, how many times did you say things like...
I can't do this
I'm not coping
This is too difficult
I'm rubbish
I'm managing ok
It's hard but I'll get there
I'm coping fine
If I stick to my plan I'll be fine
What have you changed since your last exams in how you manage your stress?
Think back to mock week...
Initially the person is placed in a situation that is moderate to cope with. Once this has been mastered, a more difficult situation is presented.
AO1 - description
AO2 - evaluation
SPG - spelling/punctuation/grammar error

S - strength...
T - target...
K = key term
E = elaborate/explain further/example
L = link
R = rephrase/redo
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