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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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

Exposure and Response Prevention , also known as Exposure Therapy, has been scientifically proven to make significant reductions in the fight, flight or freeze response in the brains of individuals experiencing OCD. This is why ERP is considered the gold standard for treatment. ERP involves identifying your obsessions, compulsions, grieving all that OCD has taken from your life and then tolerating uncertainty as you face your fears. I have advanced training in ERP with adults and adolescents.

— Angelica Onofrio, Clinical Social Worker in Denver, CO

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

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

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

I have utilized exposure therapy for my entire career. I've worked in outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, and residential settings providing exposure therapy for OCD and anxiety disorder.

— Keri Brown, Clinical Psychologist in Black Earth, WI

Exposure therapy (ERP) is used to help a patient approach and engage with whatever is causing them anxiety, and this is done without the use of anxiety reduction or what are referred to as coping skills. It is thought that continually confronting an individual's feared stimulus and there being an absence of the expected feared consequence, that there will be a reduction or depletion in the "fear," "panic," and "anxiety," that the individual is now currently dealing with.

— TERILYNN SIMONS, Marriage and Family Therapist Associate

I have been trained in Exposure Response and Prevention for OCD through the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

— Elise Zimmerman, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Saint Paul, MN

I use Exposure Therapy often in my work with clients that are anxious and have specific fears and phobias.

— Melissa Urbanek, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in , MN

Exposure is a technique we use when working with anxiety and with OCD. It means pushing yourself to do things that feel a little bit difficult. Like talking to people. Or not double checking things. Don't worry! We'll make a list of things starting with the very easiest, and we'll make it fun. Sometimes I'll do the exposures with you so you feel supported. The technical term for this which you may have seen on the internet is Exposure Response Prevention or ERP.

— Stephen Grimes, Psychotherapist in New York, NY

Exposure work plays a role in many cases of anxiety. In combination with other cognitive and behavioral tools, it's often important that we learn to little by little, face our fears and develop more confidence in situations that make us anxious.

— Elliott Blitenthal, Psychotherapist in Flushing, NY

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

Rumination-focused Exposure and Response Prevention is a modification of traditional ERP developed by a psychologist who experiences OCD himself. I find it to be both more approachable and more nuanced, and is a great option for both newcomers and ERP veterans.

— Jonathan Benko, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Santa Cruz, CA

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, 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

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 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