Imaginal flooding and exposure to real phobic situations: treatment outcome with agoraphobic patients

A M Mathews, D W Johnston, M Lancashire, M Munby, P M Shaw, M G Gelder

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122 Citations (Scopus)


Each of thirty-six female agoraphobic out-patients were treated by one of three methods: 8 sessions of imaginal flooding followed by 8 sessions of practice in the real situation; 16 sessions of combined flooding and practice; or 16 sessions of practice alone. Three therapists treated equal numbers of patients in each group, and there was some evidence that patients' response varied according to the therapist seen, irrespective of treatment group. There were no significant differences between treatment groups after 8 sessions, 16 sessions or on six-month follow-up. It is concluded that there are no long-term differences between the effects of treatments involving exposure to either imaginal or real phobic situations or to a combination of both, provided that patients are encouraged to practise between sessions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-71
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 1976


  • Agoraphobia
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Anxiety
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Desensitization, Psychologic
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Implosive Therapy
  • Personality Inventory
  • Phobic Disorders
  • Practice (Psychology)
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychophysiology


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