The importance of the therapeutic relationship in systematic desensitization

Richard J. Morris, Kenneth R. Suckerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


To determine the importance of therapist warmth in effecting positive behavior change using systematic desensitization, 23 female snake-phobic undergraduates were assigned to 1 of 3 groups: warm therapist, cold therapist, or no-treatment controls. Ss in each group were matched on initial Snake Avoidance Test scores. Posttreatment evaluation on the Snake Avoidance Test occurred after 6 20-min desensitization sessions and follow-up scores were obtained 21/2 mo later. Results show that the warm therapist group improved significantly more than either the cold therapist or control group, with no significant differences between these latter 2 groups. Results suggest that therapist warmth is an important variable in systematic desensitization. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1974


  • therapist warmth, positive behavior change in systematic desensitization, snake-phobic college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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