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)
Pages (from-to)148
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1974
Externally publishedYes


  • 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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