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What is Exposure Therapy?

Exposure therapy is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy. Exposure therapy is most commonly used to help treat a range of anxiety disorders, phobias, and PTSD. The ultimate goal of exposure therapy is to help individuals confront their traumatic experiences or phobias in a controlled environment. With gradual exposure, individuals can reduce their anxiety and avoidance behaviours slowly over time.

Before beginning exposure therapy, your therapist will take you through a thorough assessment to best understand you and the severity of your symptoms. The therapist will also be able to identify your triggers and avoidance behaviours, so they can determine treatment goals for you. Before undergoing exposure therapy, your therapist will educate you about what exposure therapy entails. Education will include explaining how confronting your fears and memories will help alleviate anxiety and avoidance behaviours. During the exposure, you will practice remaining in the situation or engaging with the stimuli while fighting the urge to avoid the scenario. The exposure exercises experienced during exposure therapy are repeated multiple times to be able to acclimatize to the anxiety provoking exposure.

Exposure therapy is about gradual conditioning to feared stimulus, leading to a reduction in a psychological response overtime. Exposure therapy is executed in a progressive manner and is designed to the individual’s treatment goals. Exposure therapy can be challenging but it is an effective treatment option with the goal of reducing symptoms of PTSD.

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