Mount Union Students Face Their Fears

October 18, 2012

ALLIANCE, Ohio — For the third year in a row, University of Mount Union students enrolled in assistant professor of psychology Dr. Kevin Meyers’ abnormal psychology course had the opportunity to overcome a specific phobia at Cedar Point Amusement Park.

Students learned to overcome their phobias through a process known as “exposure therapy.” This year’s ‘Face your Fears’ project was held at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. Students explored and overcame the “roller coaster phobia” which falls into the category of anxiety disorders known as specific phobias.

Specific phobias can be focused on certain objects or certain environments and their impact on the individual. A person with a specific phobia disorder is commonly diagnosed with behavioral disorders and the individual can suffer from anxiety attacks, persistent fear and the action of avoiding the object or environment to which their fear stems from.

This is where the concept of exposure therapy comes into play. Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy in which the individual is gradually exposed to their fear over time. According to Meyer, Cedar Point is a prime location to expose students to their roller coaster fears since Cedar Point has moderate to medium to extreme roller coaster varieties available. 

The overall goal of the ‘Face your Fear’ project is to expose students to a real-world application of how a specific therapeutic method can be applied to successfully treat a behavioral disorder. Students were active in collecting various types of data, serving as an active sample in a real-time working study, and will have the opportunity to integrate what they learn into a course project. Through this process, several individuals will in fact overcome their roller coaster phobia, opening up a previously inaccessible source of fun and excitement they can now be free to explore. 

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