Exposure therapy is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s a very effective treatment for many different types of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive (OCD), and PTSD conditions. Exposure response prevention therapy helps patients address triggers in both real and imagined ways, to reduce symptoms quickly.
Unlike other forms of cognitive behavioral therapy, the process can be short, creating positive change quickly.
What Exactly Is Exposure Therapy?
Here’s how exposure therapy works. You’re placed in a situation that includes the source of distress, and then by exposing you to the sources of stress and anxiety, the therapeutic process will help you learn that:
- Fear and stress can be tolerated
- Fear reduces with exposure
- Imagined negative consequences will not happen
Learning to access your more accurate thoughts and healthier behavior about the source of fear and anxiety works to shift feelings over time.
How Feelings Shift Through Exposure Therapy
A positive shifting of feelings occurs in the following ways:
- Habituation, or repeated experiences change your mental perception
- Extinction occurs as your fear and anxiety lessen and shrink until they disappear when the trigger does not result in whatever consequences you fear.
- Control and capability increase, and your self-efficacy and tolerance for risk improves
- Self efficacy: Emotional processing occurs, and as your thinking becomes less distorted, you discover new ways to see and understand situations. Exposure therapy helps to show you that you are able to overcome your fear and manage your anxiety effectively.
What Does Exposure Therapy Treat?
Exposure therapy works well to treat most anxiety disorders, including:
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- General anxiety
The process can work in a number of different ways, through virtual simulation of the situation, imagined simulation, or actual exposure. In many cases a systematic desensitization approach is taken to increase your coping ability; relaxation techniques such as body scanning or breathing may be utilized as coping mechanisms.
Regardless of the type of technique used in exposure therapy, the process works overall by exposing you to whatever stimulus causes your fear, but in a safe environment. As an example, if you are experiencing social anxiety you may avoid going to any crowded areas or attending parties. But during the process of exposure therapy, your therapist would expose you to such types of social settings to help you be more comfortable in such settings.
As with other forms of psychotherapy, you will get to:
- Know yourself better
- Resolve your emotional pain, fear, or confusion
- Develop greater insight into your challenges, issues, and triggers
- Learn more effective and appropriate coping mechanisms
- Understand your past, recognize your triggers, and set future goals
Exposure Response Prevention Therapy Cost
Exposure response therapy typically costs between $50 and $150 per session, though some providers or programs may charge up to $300 or more. In most cases, health insurance will fully or partially cover these therapy sessions.
Ready to Learn More?
If you’re ready to learn more about exposure response prevention therapy, or to schedule a consultation, reach out to us today! We’re here to help.