How Stress Inoculation Training Can Help You

How Stress Inoculation Training Can Help You

Stress inoculation is a cognitive-behavioral procedure developed by Canadian psychologist Donald Meichenbaum to reduce stress. The anti-stress inoculation was initially designed for the treatment of anxiety problems. Today, stress inoculation training is applied to a variety of disorders in which anxiety is present.

Training in stress inoculation is not an isolated technique, but a generic term referring to a treatment paradigm. The treatment consists of a "training" plan with specific techniques.

This treatment plan combines different elements. These elements are: didactic teaching, Socratic dialogue, cognitive restructuring, problem solving and relaxation training, behavioral and imaginative tests, self-registration, self-instruction and self-learning. enhancement.

Stress Inoculation Training is designed to generate and develop coping skills. It not only solves immediate problems, but also applies to future difficulties.

Training in stress inoculation is similar to medical inoculation against certain diseases

Inoculation training for stress provides people with an active defense against potentially stressful situations. In some ways, it is analogous to the concepts of medical inoculation against certain biological diseases.

Just like medical inoculation, stress inoculation training aims at obtaining "psychological antibodies". These psychological antibodies refer to a person's coping abilities.

So, he tries to reinforce the resistance. This is achieved by exposure to stimuli that are strong enough to activate defense mechanisms without being so powerful that they overcome them. Like this, the patient can develop a sense of "learned resources" through experience. It can also be done with a defense composed of skills and positive expectations.

What is training for inoculation in case of stress?

As Meichenbaum points out (2009), stress inoculation training is useful for addressing the four categories of stress identified by Eliot and Eisdorfer (1982):

  • Acute stress of limited duration. These are stressful events that occur at a point in time and are short-lived (for example, occasional medical examinations or driving license examinations).
  • Stress sequences. They refer to significant and stressful life events (eg, rape, job loss, loss of a loved one …)
  • Chronic intermittence. It is usually caused by repeated exposure to stressful situations (eg exams, medical exams, military combat, etc.)
  • Chronic chronic stress. It's about coping with a long-term medical or psychiatric illness or long-term emotional problems

More precisely, stress inoculation training is designed to:

  • Teach patients the nature of stress and adaptation
  • Train patients to control their thoughts, images, feelings and behaviors. All this in order to facilitate realistic and adaptive interpretations
  • Train patients to problem solving
  • Model and reproduce real performances, the regulation of emotions and self-control
  • Teach patients how use inadequate answers as clues to put into practice their adaptation directories
  • Offer imagined and live rehearsals to build patient confidence and use their coping registers
  • Help patients to acquire sufficient knowledge to help you cope with unexpected stress situations

Objectives of training in stress inoculation

The objectives of training treatment on the inoculation of stress focus on three key areas :

  • Promotion of an appropriate self-regulation activity. It is about reducing or eliminating the intensity of autoverbalizations, images and disturbing emotions. It also aims to increase the number of those who are more adaptive.
  • Modification of inappropriate behaviors and increasing or establishing adaptive behaviors.
  • Revision and modification of cognitive structures that promote negative self-evaluation and the world.

Phases of training in stress inoculation

In training for stress inoculation, three phases can be distinguished that sometimes overlap.These phases are as follows: 1) Conceptualization phase, 2) Skills acquisition and training phase, and 3) Applying skills phase.

Conceptualization phase

The general objectives of this phase are to identify and define the problem presented by the person. It is also intended to help you understand its nature and its effects on your emotions and behaviors, and to define the goals of the therapy.

This phase is very important. The importance attached to understanding the problem and how to deal with it makes this phase also known as the educational phase.

Skills acquisition and training phase

During this second phase, the patient – with the help of the therapist – reviews, learns and forms coping strategies. These strategies will allow you to address the stressful situations that were detected during the conceptualization phase.

During this phase, tasks such as training the client to research, use and effectively maintain social support are performed. Real or video adaptation models are also used, commenting, discussing and giving feedback on the execution of the strategies being formed.

Application phase and consolidation of acquired skills

In the third phase, the objectives are diverse : apply the strategies learned in real life, check the usefulness of acquired skills and correct problems that arise during the exposure process. This phase is totally linked to the previous one. Normally, to acquire skills, it is necessary to repeat them, first in the sessions and later in real situations.

As we have seen, stress inoculation training is a complex set of techniques or procedures for coping with stress. This training is composed of three phases and its usefulness is indisputable to face stressful situations, present and future.

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