T-R stands for Trigger-Reaction. T is any stimulus, activating event or cue that provokes a reaction. Reaction is any human behavior. R or Reaction involve four components – 1) Physiological 2) Behavioral 3) Cognitive 4) Emotional. Physiological reaction involves changes in neural, hormonal or muscular systems. Behavioral reaction is any overt action. Cognitive reaction includes changes in thinking, met cognition and/or other mental processes. Emotional reaction is the emotion arising in response to the trigger. Trigger activates a reaction which involves all the four components mentioned but in variable proportions. For example a particular trigger say “seeing a snake” may elicit a reaction which involves more of physiological (increased heart-rate, blood pressure, muscles etc.) and emotional (fear, anxiety etc.) components than behavioural or cognitive components. Now consider another example say “being criticized by a teacher”. This will involve more of cognitive (negative thoughts) and emotional (sadness, anger) components. Here physiological and behavioural components are likely to be low. Every trigger, however, produces a reaction which involves all four components.
Theory of Illness and Cure Since a trigger produces a reaction. It is very likely that a connection develops such that every time the trigger occurs the reaction is likely to be there. Overtime this connection becomes strong. If this reaction is out of proportion to the actual intensity of the trigger then we say that it is pathological. It is this T-R connection that needs to be severed to correct the pathology. Therapy based on this model aims to break this connection. To break the connection it is important to know how it was formed in the first place. The theory behind this is that four factors could be responsible. These four factors are: Learning: e.g. habit formation Faulty Logic: e.g. thinking that thought about harming someone is equal to harming him/her. Biological Factors: e.g. various neural connections specific to certain thoughts/actions. Unconscious Factors: e.g. almost anything left out in the above three can be included here.
Techniques of Therapy Following diagram shows the techniques used as the therapy progresses. Assessment and Diagnosis-> Safety and Psycho education->Exposure->Conversion of thoughts->Subliminal Changing As is clear from the diagram all the components of the reaction are systematically dealt with.
Important Points: Safety must be provided first Exposure is mere a testing point it should not be used as full-fledged treatment. Conversion of thoughts involves changing the tenses of thought from present or future to past. Multi-modality must be used for achieving conversion. Reaching the genesis of the problem and getting to the culprit thought is very important. Physiological changes are monitored using subjective ratings. Connections powered by unconscious factors are broken by hypnosis.
Written by Sameer Ahmed, M.A. Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychology, Barkatullah University, Bhopal