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Covert Sensitization Treatment in the Elimination of Alcohol-Related Crime in Incarcerated Young Offenders: A Study of Two Cases

NCJ Number
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 16 Issue: 1/2 Dated: (1990) Pages: 123-137
C Daniel; C Dodd
Date Published
15 pages
Three months of covert sensitization and alcohol education/counseling were used to eliminate alcohol consumption by two motivated clients in their early 20's who had previously been classified as "alcoholic" by outside social work agencies.
Covert sensitization is a type of verbal aversion technique developed by Cautela (1966, 1967) to treat maladaptive behaviors. The technique requires deeply relaxed clients to imagine scenarios in which they see themselves on the verge of the maladaptive behavior and then experiencing a highly aversive imaginary consequence that they had previously rated as noxious. They then imagine themselves refraining from the maladaptive behavior and feeling better as a result. The aim of this therapy is to condition subjects to associate the maladaptive behavior with an aversive consequence. This approach has been successfully used in the treatment of smoking, obesity, theft, and drug addiction. For one subject in this study, a 24-month followup revealed no recorded convictions of any kind. For the other subject, a 9-month followup showed a conviction for trespass, but the offense was not alcohol-related. 22 references