When experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, exposure to the actual fears can make you be able to tolerate the fear. This is the essence of Exposure Therapy. Read more about this therapy and the different types and methods.
What is exposure therapy?
In exposure therapy, under the guidance of a psychologist, you consciously expose yourself to your specific fear. This form of therapy is used to help people get rid of their anxiety disorder. You learn that you can tolerate your fear, and that you can handle the situation.
How does exposure therapy work?
Is exposure therapy right for me?
Exposure therapy works when you have a fear of something and avoid that fear. For example, a social phobia, as in the example above.
Other conditions for which exposure therapy is an effective treatment:
- Compulsive disorder;
Exposure with specific response prevention is effective for confronting obsessive thoughts without performing the usual compulsive rituals.
- Panic disorder;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
Exposure is effective in processing traumatic memories and reducing symptoms of PTSD.
- Postpartum depression;
In some cases, when symptoms persist and daily activities affect the relationship with the baby and partner, exposure is considered for women with postpartum depression.
Depending on that particular anxiety or situation, one or more variations of “exposures” may be used.
Types of exposure therapy
There are four types of exposure therapy:
1. Exposure in vivo;
You experience exposure in real life. You actually put yourself in the situation you fear.
2. Imaginary Exposure
Under the guidance of a therapist, in your mind you go back to the situation in which you feel the fear. You concentrate on the feeling and explore it. This technique is used in the treatment of PTSD and can also be used for specific phobias.
3. Imaginary Rescripting – in Exposure Therapy
4. Interoceptive exposure
In this form of exposure therapy, you expose yourself under supervision to the sensations in your body that you feel when you are anxious or panicked. This therapy is mainly used with people who suffer from panic attacks. When the anxiety is evoked, you are guided to regain control of your body through breathing. You will experience that the situation and physical sensations do not lead to the disaster scenario you imagined. Or the scenario is not as bad as you thought. You feel that you can handle it.
What does a treatment look like?
There are three different methods of exposure therapy. When in treatment, you and your psychologist will review which exposure therapy method is best for you.
Together with the psychologist you determine the hierarchy of your fears. In exposure therapy, you tackle increasingly scary things, step by step.
You are confronted with your fear for a long period of time and at an intense level. The psychologist helps you endure the feelings and guides you by assuring that the fear you experience isn’t reality.
The situation you are exposed to in this therapy is random in terms of intensity. The advantage of the unpredictability is that it is easier to surrender to it.
How long does exposure therapy take?
On average, treatment at iPractice takes eight sessions in the consultation room. At iPractice we work with blended care: a method in which you receive online support in addition to treatment in the consultation room.
Find a psychologist
The cost of therapy is reimbursed by most health insurance companies with a referral letter from the general practitioner and if the classification is determined according to DSM-5 guidelines. See which health insurance companies reimburse our care.