What is Exposure Response Prevention Therapy?
Let’s first start with what Exposure Response Prevention Therapy isn’t. Many people who struggle with anxiety try to treat their symptoms with traditional therapy focused on coping and relaxation techniques. Unfortunately, these techniques do little to address the actual root of anxiety disorders. Instead, they foster avoidant behaviors causing anxiety to remain untreated, or worse, intensify. “You can’t think your way out of or hide from anxiety,” says NW Anxiety Clinical Director, Kevin Ashworth. Exposure Response Prevention is a way to get to the real root of your fear, and make changes on a functional level.
Changing how the Brain Works
Studies show the best way to treat anxiety disorders is through Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on changing your behaviors and feelings by addressing the underlying thought patterns causing them. By pinpointing and correcting distorted thinking, you can essentially rewire your brain and significantly change automatic behaviors and feelings at the deepest level. Exposure Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) is a form of CBT that works on changing your thought patterns by systematically exposing you to your fears without truly being in danger.
What Does Exposure Response Therapy Look Like?
Rather than relying on avoidant behaviors or coping techniques, Exposure Response Therapy requires you to experience the anxiety head-on in a safe setting and with the help of a trained therapist. As exposure to your fear increases, your brain becomes habituated to the triggering item or situation and starts to dial back the fight-or-flight responses of anxiety. Eventually, your brain learns the object of your fear is no longer a danger and the anxiety is eliminated altogether.
A Better Way
Facing your fear can be uncomfortable. Exposure Response Prevention asks you to do something you’ve likely spent a lot of energy and effort avoiding on a daily basis.
At the NW Anxiety Institute, we don’t ask you to do this alone. You have a team of highly-trained therapists with you every step of the way. As Kevin says, “You’re already miserable. You may as well be miserable on purpose!” The reward is a life free from fear.
The FOCUS Program
An intensive outpatient program designed to focus on your treatment through daily therapy and individually-tailored treatment.
Meet one-on-one with a highly-trained therapist in our office or out in the community.
Join a group of like-minded individuals to share experiences and exchange insights.