Exposure Response Prevention

Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that is often used to treat anxiety disorders (e.g., phobias, social anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder). In phobias, exposure therapy is used in conjunction with relaxation exercises and/or imagery. For OCD, a type of exposure called Exposure and Response Prevention is often employed. In this protocol, clients make a ranked list of activities that trigger obsessions and learn skills to systematically confront the items on the list without engaging in the desired compulsions. This helps clients learn to manage their anxiety without perpetuating the cycle among obsession and compulsions. Similar protocols are used for other types of anxiety. Common to all methods of exposure therapy, in conjunction with teaching clients how to bring about a relaxed state at-will, this technique gradually exposes them to what frightens them and helps them cope with and reduce their fears.