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Old 05-19-2020, 02:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
violachick8
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Boston
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Exposure therapy

The discussion regarding exposure treatment was very interesting to listen to. I wanted to provide some additional information about how exposure therapy is supposed to work and how it can be very helpful for PTSD and other disorders. I am a psychologist in training and do use exposure therapy to work with some of my clients.

The idea behind exposure therapy is that when we are scared of something (I'll use the common phobia of clowns) we tend to avoid it. In the absence of the feared stimulus (the clown) our brain makes the feared stimulus even scarier and difficult to deal with because it remembers the memory of the fear more vividly than the actual stimulus itself. Exposure therapy is based on the idea that if you expose yourself, slowly, over time, to these feared stimuli you can actual develop new learning about the feared stimuli. Within the clown example, you might start by exposing someone to related images like the circus, then move to clown clothes, then to a picture of the face of a clown, then to a video of clowns. Over time your mind learns that clowns are not objectively scary and do not need to create a fear response. This picture explains the same concept graphically.


Exposure based therapies, if done correctly, can be very very effective for most clients. I do not wish to deny Tracy's experience of it being unhelpful as this can sometimes be the case. Exposure therapy is most commonly used for anxiety and trauma related disorders. You can read more about it generally here. In fact, it is one of the top three gold standards for treating PTSD, its called prolonged exposure. You can read more about how its used to treat PTSD here.

Hope this helps to clarify some of the intention behind exposure therapy!
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