We also discuss theoretical mechanisms, practical applications, and empirical support for this treatment and provide practical guidelines for clinicians who wish to use exposure therapy and empirical evidence to guide their decision making.
Exposure therapy is defined as any treatment that encourages the systematic confrontation of feared stimuli, which can be external (eg, feared objects, activities, situations) or internal (eg, feared thoughts, physical sensations).
This approach involves constructing an exposure hierarchy in which feared stimuli are ranked according to their anticipated fear reaction (Table 1).
Traditionally, higher-level exposures are not attempted until the patient’s fear subsides for the lower-level exposure.
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Younger singles are more likely to friend their date on Facebook, communicate by text after a date, and be evasive about their availability if they're not interested in a second date.
We hope the dissemination of the theoretical mechanisms, practical applications, and empirical support for exposure-based therapies in this article will encourage mental health practitioners to embrace this modality as a viable and easily accessible option in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Internal vs external Exposures can target internal and/or external cues.
By contrast, some therapists have used flooding, in which the most difficult stimuli are addressed from the beginning of treatment (an older variant, implosive therapy, is not discussed in this article).
In clinical practice, these approaches appear equally effective; however, most patients and clinicians choose a graded approach because of the personal comfort level.
Exposure therapy is defined as any treatment that encourages the systematic confrontation of feared stimuli, with the aim of reducing a fearful reaction.
Over a quarter of the people in the US population will have an anxiety disorder sometime during their lifetime, and available research literature suggests that exposure-based therapies should be considered the first-line treatment for these disorders.
In vivo vs imaginal In vivo exposure refers to real-world confrontation of feared stimuli.