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Learning Theory and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

Learning Theory and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Learning Theory and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Michael Treanor

, Lindsay K. Staples-Bradley

, and Michelle G. Craske

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date: 29 January 2022

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice for anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, many individuals fail to benefit from treatment or demonstrate a return of symptoms. Associative learning theory provides a parsimonious and unifying framework from which to situate CBT and may provide useful strategies to target treatment mechanisms. This chapter provides an overview of modern learning theory as it pertains to exposure-based procedures and cognitive therapy, with attention to the wealth of animal and human research that supports associative learning processes, along with strategies to target extinction learning derived from the basic science of associative learning. In addition, a case study illustrates the clinical application of these procedures.

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