Stress inoculation training is a psychological method of managing stress which employs cognitive behavioural therapy (C.B.T.
) to help people develop better stress management in the long term. It does this in two ways firstly cognitively by evaluating the influence thought has on the way an individual thinks about and responds to a stressful situation, and identifies maladaptive feelings and behaviours that the individual employs as a response to the situation. They then take steps to reduce and eliminate these behaviours. Secondly, it adopts a behavioural approach, which recognises harmful behaviours as being learned and attempts to assist the individual by unlearning these behaviours and replacing them with new and more desirable ones. The first step of S.I.T.
is to conceptualise stress by ensuring that the patient is educated about the nature of stress, and that it is a problem that needs to be solved which can be done by breaking big events down into smaller more manageable sections and tackling those individually as opposed to trying to tackle the entire event head on. Thus enabling him to view stress differently and be better able to handle challenges. The second step is to teach the individual coping skills and practice those skills in a controlled environment and then gradually start to apply them to real life situations.
These skills include having a positive outlook, learning how to relax in appropriate ways, methods of diverting their attention, utilising social support networks, and managing their time more efficiently. This employs both cognitive and behavioural approaches to teach new ways of thinking and new behaviours. The last step of S.I.T. for the patient to apply these skills in a variety of different situations each with varying levels of stress involved.Techniques such as modelling, role playing, and imagery are often employed. The patient is often then asked to teach these techniques to others and booster sessions are offered to top these skills up to ensure they are embedded in the mind of the patient.
Studies have been done into the effectiveness of S.I.T. one noteworthy study was carried out by Sheehy and Horan (2004) which examined the effects of S.I.T. in relation to anxiety, stress, and academic success among first year law students.
The students had 4 sessions of S.I.T. over a month each lasting one and a half hours and found that the students who underwent these sessions had a better tolerance for stress and an improved academic performance.
S.I.T. is focused on long term solutions to stress enabling the individual to use these skills over the course of his lifetime. S.I.T.
is very demanding, it makes demands on the individuals time, money, motivation, and requires a lot of effort.S.I.T. is a very complex process and it is impossible to pinpoint one single step as being the most beneficial so it is unclear whether or not some steps could be removed or modified to make it less time consuming.Drugs are often prescribed for the treatment of the symptoms of stress. The symptoms of stress can be treated in the following ways, for anxiety drugs like Valium or Lithium are available which work to relieve anxiety by increasing a neurotransmitter called GABA which has the effect of slowing down brain activity and alleviating anxiety.
The body’s response to stress can also be controlled by drugs, namely beta blockers, which affect the sympathetic nervous system and work by reducing the production of adrenaline and noradrenaline which are key factors in the sympathomedullary response to perceived threats. Beta blockers block these hormones starving the receptor of stimulation which in turn prevents increases in heart rate and blood pressure typically associated with the stress response. Drugs only address the symptoms and not the root cause of stress and should only be used short term, for longer term treatment and reduction of stress other methods should be considered.
These drugs can limit the user’s ability to carry out other daily tasks such as driving or operating machinery as they can cause drowsiness and fatigue. There is an ever present risk that through long term use that these drugs can be habit forming, which may lead the user to create even more stress. Drug treatment enables the user to control the symptoms while efforts are being made to address the cause of stress. Which allows the individual to stabilise their behaviour while undergoing treatment.
They can be used in conjunction with other methods of stress management including C.B.T.Drugs are an extremely convenient method of controlling the symptoms of stress, however, any course of medication should be overseen by a qualified professional so as to avoid misuse.