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Exposure Therapy

Exposure Therapy

Exposure Therapy

Exposure Therapy – Intended to treat anxiety disorders and involves the exposure to the feared object or context without any danger in order to overcome their anxiety.

The therapist identifies the cognitions, emotions and physiological arousal that accompany a fear-inducing stimulus, and attempts to break the pattern of escape that strengthens the fear response, through measured exposure to progressively stronger stimuli until habituation is reached.

The technique involves the creation of steadily escalating steps or challenges that work towards a final goal representing a “non-phobic” response.  The patient voluntarily moves through the steps, with a means of terminating each step (under voluntary control).

Exposure and Response Prevention –  A therapeutic effect is achieved as subjects confront their fears and discontinue their escape response.  (Practiced in treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders)

An example of how this process works:

Imagine a person who repeatedly checks light switches to ensure they’re in the off position, even when entering a clearly unlit room.  The person would be exposed to their feared stimulus (leaving lights switched on), and would refuse to respond with any safety behaviors.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy –  Characterized by re-experiencing a traumatic event through remembering it and engaging with (rather than avoiding) reminders of the trauma, called triggers.  (Practiced in treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Imaginal Exposure – Revisiting a traumatic memory, repeated recounting it aloud, and processing the revisiting experience.

In Vivo Exposure – Repeated confrontation with situations and objects that cause distress but are not inherently dangerous.

The goal of this treatment in PTSD is to promote processing of the trauma memory and to reduce distress and avoidance evoked by the trauma reminders.

Individuals with emotional numbing and depression are encouraged to engage in enjoyable activities, even if these activities do not cause fear or anxiety but have dropped out the person’s life due to loss of interest.

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I was recently introduced to the concept of Exposure Therapy.  Levels of fear were established from 1 – 100.

For example:
You are afraid of “?”
100 is a”?” on your hand …
Level 50 is “?” certain amount of feet away …
Level 1 is “?” on the TV.
You would begin exposure at Level 1 and take small steps until you reach Level 100.

The different types of Exposure Therapy can be molded to treat a variety of Anxiety or OCD Spectrum Disorders.

Featured Image Source:  clker.com – Ocal

Quoted from Sources:
wikipedia.org – Exposure_Therapy
wikipedia.org – Exposure_and_Response_Prevention
wikipedia.org – Prolonged_Exposure_Therapy

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