The History of Progressive Relaxation Training 5 The importance of Wolpe’s work in relation to PRT lies in the fact that he shortened the procedures considerably, thus allowing the therapist to focus not just on relaxation training (which Jacobson had assumed would be all that was necessary to eliminate anxiety) but on helping clients use relaxation to inhibit anxiety responses to specific environmental situa- tions. Indeed, Wolpe devoted most of his treatment sessions to the devel- opment of a structured, situation-specific program of reconditioning known as systematic desensitization. The details of this now-classic treat- ment method are covered in detail in Wolpe’s (1958) Psychotherapy by Reciprocal Inhibition. The PRT methods described in this guide represent a further modifica- tion of Jacobson’s and Wolpe’s procedures as described by Gordon Paul (1966). Among these modifications are tension-release cycle times that are considerably shorter than Wolpe’s, inclusion of practice with all 16 muscle groups in every training session, introduction of the “pendulum” analogy for explaining the need for tension cycles (see chapter 5), and much more elaborate and active verbal input from the therapist (in the form of indirect relaxation suggestions) during training. These changes came about in the late 1960s and early 1970s and represented an effort not only to streamline progressive relaxation further for use in systematic desensitization but also to supplement and facilitate other methods (such as participant mod- eling) in the then-burgeoning list of behavioral approaches to anxiety- related problems. THE CURRENT STATUS OF PRT With the modifications of Jacobson’s original program made by Wolpe (1958), Paul (1966), and Bernstein and Borkovec (1973), PRT became a practical and flexible treatment package, and it is now a standard clinical tool that is widely used by therapists and health professionals of all types, especially those whose research and/or practice involves behavioral and cognitive-behavioral treatment approaches to stress- and anxiety-related disorders. The manual first written by Bernstein and Borkovec in 1973 was updated in 2000 to include detailed applied relaxation procedures and an evaluative review of PRT outcome research (Bernstein, Borkovec, & Hazlett-Stevens, 2000). In this new edition, we have expanded on this material by adding chapters on the physiology of relaxation and on the use of PRT in the context of mindfulness and meditation. The value of PRT as a treatment in its own right and as a component of a variety of more exten- sive treatment programs has been well established, not only through clini- cal experience but also through empirical evaluations of its effectiveness. The results of those evaluations appear in an updated review in chapter 12.
Previous Page Next Page