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Exposure and Response Prevention


What is Exposure and Response Prevention?


Exposure and response prevention is an intervention designed to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other phobias. In a nutshell, when it comes OCD, our behaviors reinforce our reality.


For instance, if I’m afraid my hands are contaminated, and therefore I wash them every 3 minutes, my brain will come to believe that this amount of frequent hand washing is necessary to keep myself safe from contamination.

Who Created Exposure and Response Prevention

It is difficult to attribute exposure and response prevention to one individual as its root in behavioral therapy have contributions by many individuals. The specific use of gradual exposure in a therapeutic environment was utilized by the psychiatrist Joseph Wolpe in the 1940s and 1950s.


How does Exposure and Response Prevention work


The way that ERP works is through two main components.

The Exposure: In the handwashing analogy, “Client X” might put a small bit of dirt on his hands and leave it there for 10 seconds. This exposure helps the individual manage the discomfort and tolerate it for longer periods of time.


The Response Prevention: “Client X” must now refrain from washing his hands for a set amount of time (based on clinical judgment by the therapist) and slowly increase it. This “response prevention” sends a message to the brain that not washing hands every 3 minutes is considered safe.


Is Exposure and Response Prevention right for me?


Every person is different and deserves an individualized plan of treatment after an accurate diagnosis. We recommend reaching out for a free 15-minute consultation if Exposure and Response Prevention sounds like a good fit for you.

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