Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a therapeutic technique that was created to help people face their fears. When you are scared of something, you tend to avoid it. Although this avoidance might help reduce feelings of fear in the short-term, over time the fear can grow and worsen. Exposure therapy involves exposing the client to the source of the fear (or its context) in a safe environment without the intention to cause any danger. The exposure to the feared situation, object, or activity helps to reduce fear and decrease avoidance. Exposure therapy can be helpful in the treatment of a number of issues, including PTSD, anxiety, OCD, and panic attacks. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s exposure therapy experts today.

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Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is the gold standard of treatment for Anxiety & OCD. It is highly effective treatment. Most people in outpatient therapy need time to build trust and safety before learning how to do this kind of treatment.

— Sarah Weber, Mental Health Counselor in Kirkland, WA

I have attended multiple training courses on this topic and have provided training and supervision in this area.

— Alison Schweichler, Counselor in Orchard Park, NY

I utilize exposure-based methods to treat many anxiety and fear-based symptoms including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and phobias. I will teach you how to approach your fear in such a way that it subsides quickly and allows you to build mastery over it. These techniques are among the most reliable and effective we have. Most clients are amazed at how effectively and efficiently these methods work for them.

— Joe Groninga, Psychologist in St. Paul, MN

When we avoid the things that scare and give us anxiety, it only give it more power over us. Exposure therapy (or ERP) is a challenging approach but with a rewarding outcome. We'll go at your pace. Overtime, we'll step into the exact thing that gives us the most fear and concern. We'll sit with the anxiety. Sounds like a big ol' 'NOPE' to you, doesn't it?! Don't worry, when this time comes, you'll have all the tools you need to manage.

— Estrella Askren-Gonzalez, Clinical Trainee in Skokie, IL

Fear is a powerful emotion. Since 2019, a specialty of mine has been using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) to help teens and adults who struggle with anxiety, panic disorder, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). When you are able to use exposure in a therapeutic way, it becomes a powerful tool to help you break free of fear, and live the life you desire.

— Michelle Henny, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Orlando, FL

When we feel anxious, we often avoid the things that make us feel anxious. This seems so logical, but really, this doesn't help us. In the long run, when we avoid the things that make us feel anxious, we're actually teaching ourselves that we cannot handle these things. Depending on who I'm working with, I may use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), which is considered the gold standard for OCD.

— Danielle Wayne, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Boise, ID

Particularly for OCD, Exposure and Response Prevention is the gold standard of care. ERP involves identification and rating fears associated with repetitive thoughts and obsessive behaviors or thoughts to neutralize the fears. Then, systemically and with great care and support, exposure treatment involves graded work on neutralizing the anxiety that arises when approaching rather than avoiding the feared stimulus.

— Tera Lensegrav-Benson, Psychologist in , UT

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) ERP is the primary treatment technique used and is the gold standard for OCD treatment. In ERP, we will guide you in a step-by-step process of exposing yourself to the thoughts and situations that are triggering your distress- without allowing a compulsion to stop the distress. Without the compulsive behaviors you will habituate to the distress and/or train the brain that the distress can be tolerated.

— North Shore OCD Women's Treatment Center, Ltd. Kathi Fine Abitbol, PhD, Clinical Psychologist in Deerfield, IL

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) used to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It involves gradually exposing the patient to the source of their anxiety while encouraging them to resist the urge to engage in compulsive behaviors. This helps the patient to learn to cope with the anxiety and eventually break the patterns of OCD. I usually do ERP in combination with other forms of CBT, such as cognitive restructuring and relaxation.

— Matt Kirby, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate in Asheville, NC

I first learned exposure therapy in 2011. Since then, I have been performing individual and group-based exposure therapy for anxiety and have provided clinical supervision for trainees. In the VA, I learned Prolonged Exposure (PE) for Veterans with PTSD. I conduct exposures within an ACT-framework. We don't exposure ourselves to situations, thoughts, emotions, and sensations to torture ourselves; rather, we learn to tolerate distress so that we can engage with the people and things that matter.

— Daniel Paulus, Clinical Psychologist in Philadelphia, PA

I primarily utilize Exposure and Response Prevention when working with folks with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, or disorders with underlying anxiety concerns.

— Brandi Stalzer, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

"Exposure therapy is a psychological treatment that was developed to help people confront their fears. When people are fearful of something, they tend to avoid the feared objects, activities or situations. Although this avoidance might help reduce feelings of fear in the short term, over the long term it can make the fear become even worse."- APA Div. 12 Through setting exposures based on your personal triggers you will begin to gain self-efficacy and confidence in yourself.

— Nicole Schafer, Licensed Professional Counselor in Overland Park, KS

Exposure Therapy, sometimes also called Exposure and Response Prevention, can help individuals with OCD break the cycle of intrusive thought, compulsion, temporary relief, and return of the intrusive thoughts.

— Kristofer Joondeph-Breidbart, Psychiatrist in Somerville, MA

When we avoid the things that scare and give us anxiety, it only give it more power. Exposure therapy (or ERP) is a challenging approach but with a rewarding outcome. We'll go at your pace. Overtime, we'll step into the exact thing that gives us the most fear and concern. Don't worry, you have all the tools you need to overcome this.

— Estrella Askren-Gonzalez, Clinical Trainee in Skokie, IL

Exposure therapy is about facing discomfort, often in the service of doing what matters. If this sounds like ACT based on my description above, that makes sense; these treatments pair well with one another. Exposure therapy, often called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), is a process of transforming one's relationship with discomfort and avoidance. It can be done very systematically or more organically, and ACT helps dive deeper into managing the thoughts and feelings that show up.

— Rachel LaFleur, Psychologist in Baltimore, MD

It's not like in the movies. Exposure therapy is done in very small steps, which are dictated by your comfort level, and designed to help you increase your tolerance of discomfort.

— Sonia Kersevich, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Greenbelt, MD

Exposure therapy (and specifically Exposure and Response Prevention for OCD-like symptoms including compulsions) is great for fighting back against avoidance behaviors. If you've been avoidant lately, this approach could be a helpful part of your therapy. And when we do the preparation for this work, "exposure" isn't as scary as it sounds! I have a certification in childhood and adolescent anxiety treatment, and have completed trainings by the International OCD Foundation.

— Ky'an Kelly, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in , MA

Exposure therapy is considered the most evidence based treatment for anxiety and OCD. I utilize this approach with those experiencing a phobia, generalized anxiety, PTSD, or obsessive thought patterns.

— Sprout Therapy PDX, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Exposure therapy helps people not fear their obsessions or panic attacks, for example. When we learn not to fear a panic attack, for example, they will not return. Intrusive thoughts, obsessions and compulsive behaviors are destroyed with exposure to the Truth that you have nothing to fear from them and never did.

— Adam Pearson, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in MARION, IL