What Is Exposure and Response Prevention for OCD?

Team OCD

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is one of the most effective therapies for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In this approach, a highly qualified mental health professional exposes someone with OCD to a situation that triggers their symptoms and then teaches the patient how to avoid those symptoms. 

If you or someone you love lives with OCD, you’re likely looking for any treatment option that helps. ERP is one thoroughly tested and proven treatment that helps people have long-term recovery. Before deciding if ERP is the right OCD treatment for you, be sure to learn how it works and what to expect during an appointment. 

Triggers and OCD

Fear is a normal and healthy reaction to many things in life. It’s like an alarm that alerts us when we are in danger and allows us to take action and keep ourselves safe. However, people with OCD have an alarm system that is more sensitive than others. 

Instead of only alerting you when you’re in real danger, the alarm goes off when you face certain triggers. It’s as if your car’s alarm went off every time the wind blew a little, and you sprung into action to protect your property every time. 

Anything that causes this metaphorical alarm system to go off is considered a trigger for OCD. With ERP, you can teach yourself not to respond to every fear that comes across your mind. You can respond appropriately when you are in danger without over-reacting to other triggers. 

What to Expect During ERP

A qualified mental health professional will not make you face your greatest fear right away. Instead, your first session with a therapist will mostly be about getting to know one another. During your first appointment, you can ask any questions you have about treatment options and open up about any anxieties you have about the treatment itself. Sometimes, this initial phase takes a few appointments. 

Then, your therapist will start to slowly expose you to things that can trigger your OCD symptoms. Together, you’ll walk through your thoughts and redirect them. Over time, your mind will learn that these triggers are not dangerous. 

The most important thing to know about ERP is this: you are safe. Your therapist should not push you further than you’re ready to go. These are your sessions, and your therapist is there to help. 

OCD Treatment in Rhode Island

South County Psychiatry is proud to offer ERP services to people who live with OCD. Our experienced, compassionate providers can help you finally feel at peace with your mind. If you’re ready, request an appointment today.