The Emotional Scenarios, what are they?

The Emotional Scenarios, what are they?

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Since we are little all or almost all suffer from some kind of phobia. Some fear the dark, others insects, enclosed spaces, etc. If we live in a big city and we have snake phobia, we may not have to worry about it. But if our son has a phobia of the dark and does not want to sleep alone, it may be time to put the emotional staging.

Remember that one specific phobia, according to him DSM-V, is a "persistent, excessive or irrational fear in the presence or anticipation of specific objects or situations". It is a highly researched fear of scientific psychological literature since, in principle, it is something irrational. The agoraphobia or the clown phobia are also the best known. Why do they arise? How do they arise? And above all, How can we cope with it?


  • 1 Emotional stages
  • 2 Counter conditioning
  • 3 How do we know if it works and how long does it last?
  • 4 Work at home with the youngest emotional scenes

Emotional stages

One of the techniques used to reduce and / or eliminate phobia are theemotional staging. It is applied especially in children. It is a technique that is based on a gradual exposure to the feared situation through gaming activities.

"Fear arises from a weakness of the mind and, therefore, does not belong to the use of reason."

-Saruch Spinoza-

The therapist asks the child to choose a hero of movies or drawings that you like and arouse your admiration. The therapist explains to the child how the game will develop and who will represent each character in the story. In this way, he establishes and awakens in him brave behaviors.

Prior to the application of the emotional stage technique, a hierarchical program must be constructed combining physical variables. Among which we can find, exposure time or intensity of light. This hierarchy serves to establish the situations that will be faced, from the least to the most feared.

As the team indicates Méndez Carrillo (2003), "a reinforcement system is programmed, consisting of the administration of social reinforcement (for example, mood phrases, smiles, winks) and material reinforcement when the child exceeds for item of the hierarchy ". In relation to the reinforcement system, the Token Economy. It consists of prizes that the child can get and are related to the phobia treated.

When the child is in full play, the therapist asks him to take the first step of the hierarchy as if it were an episode of the plot. What happens if the child faces it correctly? It is reinforced materially and socially. But if he refuses to carry out the proposed action, the exhibition is interrupted before the end of the established time or before he shows fear. Subsequently, the child is encouraged to repeat the action.


Behind this technique lies a learning process known as counterconditioning. What does it consist of? If, before a stimulus that provokes a fear response, an opposite response is launched, the stimulus will lose strength and stop eliciting fear.. That is, if the fear of the dark is associated with play, fun or laughter; the darkness will stop causing this fear and will have a neutral or positive value.

How do we know if it works and how long does it last?

According to Méndez Carrillo (2003), "an item is considered passed when the child conducts the conduct a couple of successive tests without needing help and without manifestingfear". Little by little, the therapist is introducing new situations until completing the hierarchy.

The number of sessions of the program is variable and depends on the severity of the phobia. The duration of each session can be between 30 and 45 minutes with a frequency of 2 to 3 weekly sessions. Parents are also instructed to encourage appropriate behaviors at home through reinforcement.

Once the program ends, some sessions are usually organized to strengthen the progress made. The situations that have been more difficult for the child to overcome are repeated to assess how it develops. Several sessions are also planned to verify that achievements are maintained over time. Finally, problems are solved if any arise.

Work at home with the youngest emotional scenes

Normally it is usually started with instructions to the parents to read the child a story in which the main character has the same fear as him. However, this character gradually exposes himself to the feared situations. At the same time, the child also performs the same behaviors in the form of a game.

"Do not judge every day by the harvest you collect, but by the seeds you plant."

-Robert Louis Stevenson-

In this case, both the hero and the parents represent behavioral modelsIn this way, there is a coping modeling in which the feared situations are gradually overcome. The advantage of using a fictional character is that it can match in age and characteristics with the child. As the child progresses, they will be given tokens that will accumulate to get motivational prizes.

Work at home is essential. It is where the child will spend most of the time and where the behavior of fear of darkness may manifest. Therefore, Work and rapport between the therapist and parents will be a key aspect of the process.


Méndez, X., Orgilés, M. and Espada, J. (2004). Emotional scenarios for the phobia of darkness: a controlled trial. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 4, (3), 505-520.


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