Allen K L: An investigation of the effectiveness of Neurolinguistic Programming procedures in treating snake phobics.
Dissertation Abstracts International 43(3), 861-B University of Missouri at Kansas City (Pub = AAC8216956): 76, 1982.
Abstract: New procedures of psychotherapy are presented periodically in an effort to find more effective and efficient therapy techniques. One recent procedure that is being presented in a variety of workshops around the country is Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), which has been praised as a great advancement for current therapy. NLP has been claimed to be able to "cure" a person of a phobia in a single brief therapy session. This study explored the effectiveness of NLP techniques in changing the behavior of snake phobics under controlled conditions. Thirty-six undergraduate students, identified as snake phobics by their responses on the Fear Survey Schedule II and Behavior Avoidance Test, took part in this experiment. They were randomly assigned to three groups: (a) waiting list control group; (b) NLP treatment group; and, (c) a single session of massed systematic desensitization (MSD) treatment group. All 36 subjects took the Behavior Avoidance Test and Fear Thermometer as pretest and posttest. Effectiveness of treatment was measured by number of subjects were able to pick up a snake on the posttest, and by examining differences in scores from pretest to posttest on the Behavior Avoidance Test and Fear Thermometer. One research question examined whether there would be differences among subjects in the three groups in their ability to approach a snake following the conditions of their group. Another research question explored whether there would be a difference in the level of fear expressed during completion of snake approach tasks by subjects in the three groups after treatment. Results of data analyses failed to support that a statistically significant difference existed between subjects who received no treatment and those who received NLP or MSD treatment. The conclusion was made that NLP and MSD had no effect on subjects' fear of snakes. While NLP treatment subjects neither completed more snake approach tasks nor reported less fear while performing those tasks, they did report more frequently that they thought they were over their fear of snakes. It was recommended that further research with larger populations and different phobias be conducted to determine if these results are reliable with different subjects, different therapists, and different phobias.