What is Exposure Therapy?
We fly with patients who have a fear of flying…
We work with public speaking anxiety…
The Ross center therapists provide exposure therapy as part of our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy treatment program. When people are fearful, their natural instinct is to avoid the feared objects, situations, or activities. This short term reduction in anxiety that occurs as a result of the avoidance will, over the long term, actually increase the fear and thus make the anxiety worsen. Our therapists work together with the patient to create a safe environment to begin to “expose” the patient to the feared object. We do this by allowing the patient in a safe and comfortable way to directly face the fear in real life situations. We fly with patients who have fear of flying, drive with patients on highways or bridges, and work with them while the anxiety is present in the moment. We work with public speaking anxiety in a similar way, as well as with all manners of phobias- heights, claustrophobia, animal phobias, etc. We are creative in how we customize our exposures and are able to give each patient an individualized treatment plan which is successful in alleviating their anxiety.
We are careful to do this in a graded way; we create a fear hierarchy in which feared objects are ranked according to levels of difficulty. We begin with mildly difficult exposures and then progress to more challenging ones.
Exposure therapy helps the patient to habituate, and over repeated exposures to extinguish the intensity of the fear. It will give the patient a greater sense of self efficacy and at the same time a chance to emotionally process the fear in a new way. Exposure therapy “in vivo”, meaning in the natural setting in which the anxiety occurs, is extremely effective for the treatment of many types of anxiety and phobias.
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