Cognitive Systematic Desensitization An Innovative Therapeutic Technique with Special Reference to Muslim Patients

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Malik B. Badri



This paper discusses my innovative alterations and my Islamization of Wolpe’s systematic desensitization therapy applied during 1965 to treat a Moroccan patient. I have used this technique for the last fifty years; however, this is the first time I have described it in full detail. My main modifications were to (1) ask the patient to speak out loudly when detailing what she was imagining in order to enhance her involvement and her ability to imagine vividly; (2) encourage her to “horizontally” imagine and speak about other scenes of comparable anxiety-provoking instances to facilitate the transfer from clinic to real life. In fact, this turned out to be one of the earliest attempts to transform classical behavior therapy to cognitive therapy. Whenever she reported a great deal of anxiety, I discussed it with her and helped her discover her unconstructive thinking and Islamically change its negative irrationality. In doing so I combined desensitization with behavior rehearsal and spiritual Islamic therapy; (3) ask her to stop talking, instead of raising a finger, whenever she experienced a great deal of anxiety. My combination of the gradual approach of desensitization with cognitive therapy, behavior rehearsal, and spiritual therapy has shown how this combination can be of special relevance when treating Muslim patients.

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