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Exposure Therapy is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique for reducing fear and anxiety responses, especially phobia. It is similar to Systematic desensitization, though it works more quickly and produces more robust results. It is also very closely related to Exposure and response prevention, a method widely used for the treatment of Obsessive-compulsive disorder. It based on the principles of habituation and cognitive dissonance.
Additional recommended knowledge
A typical example of the use of Exposure Therapy might be the treatment of a person with a phobia of snakes. The subject experiences an extreme revulsion when they encounter a snake; this would often not be associated with any feared consequence (they don’t think it’s going to bite them) but rather with an evaluation of it as ‘horrible’ or ‘slimy’. The sight of a snake triggers an unthinking state of arousal, which can be relieved by escaping from the situation. Such escape behavior (or, more precisely, the habit-strength of the arousal-escape connection) is thus reinforced, but it also strengthens the link between snakes and arousal (the stimulus-arousal connection). Thus, the next time a snake is encountered, the arousal response may be stronger or the stimulus may not need to be as powerful to evoke the same degree of arousal – it might be, for instance, that a photograph of a snake might have the same effect that a real snake had previously.
Exposure Therapy would consist of the client (instructed and guided by the therapist) exposing themselves to progressively stronger stimuli and thereby experiencing habituation.
How to do Exposure Therapy
Some of the rules for constructing a good program of Exposure Therapy are:
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Exposure_Therapy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.