The Relation Between Exposure Therapy and CBT and 11 Variations of Exposure

Exposure Therapy is a psychological treatment that exposes an individual to their fears in controlled, safe settings until the anxiety begins to lessen. The benefits of this form of therapy are dependent on the specific issue being treated.
For phobias, Exposure Therapy and CBT helps to eliminate fear by slowly exposing you to what you’re afraid of. This helps change your response from “oh no!” or “I can’t” to “whatever.” For post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), PTSD treatment helps reduce flashbacks, nightmares, and distressed thoughts related to traumatic events. It enables an individual suffering from PTSD triggers tio feel more grounded in the present moment – not in the damaging past memory or anxious future scenario.

What Is Exposure Therapy?

Exposure therapy is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy in which the therapist exposes the patient to their fear in small increments. For example, with an individual who has a fear of flying (aviophobia), they would be encouraged to watch movies about flying (e.g., “Up”), then go look out windows from tall buildings, go up high on escalators and finally fly with all accompanying support that they need, such as oxygen and/or anxiety medications if needed.

What Is The Principle of Exposure Therapy?

The underlying principle behind exposure therapy is that by repeatedly and with thoughtful repetition conquering one’s fears (exposure-in-little-increments), will systematically weaken the prospect of future panic or anxiety attacks when faced with stimuli reminiscent but not identical

Q: How effective is Exposure Therapy and CBT? What are its “success rates”?
A: Exposure Therapy and CBT are considered the most effective treatments for anxiety disorders. Most national guidelines and treatment recommendation guidelines consider Exposure Therapy and CBT to be first-line treatments of choice. Success rates for treatments of mental illnesses are difficult to gauge because of different definitions of “success,” however most estimated range is from 60% to 90% of treatment ends up with success.


Is fear only seen in man? Do animals get scared?
The answer to these questions is revealed by psychiatric experiments. In experiments on mice, the fear exposure experiment is similar to Exposure Therapy.

Although this avoidance might help reduce feelings of fear in the short term, over the long term it can make the fear become even worse.
the relation between exposure therapy and cbt and 11 variations of exposure 1

In some cases it can be very difficult to cope with existing fear. These fears can completely reduce our quality of life. It is important to struggle with these fears and to get professional help to get rid of these fears.

The therapist may try to overcome these fears using Exposure Therapy techniques.

In this form of therapy, psychologists create a safe environment to “expose” individuals to the things they fear of. The exposure to the feared objects, activities or situations in a safe environment helps reduce fear and decrease avoidance.

In the exposure therapy and CBT, the client confronts the object of fear in a safe environment. In time, it is aimed to become desensitized towards the fear of this object.

The first experience can only be that the client imagines the object he/she is afraid of. In recent years there have been exposure therapies adapted to virtual reality environments.

Exposure therapy has been scientifically demonstrated to be a helpful treatment or treatment component for a range of problems, including:

  • Phobias
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

There are several variations of exposure therapy.  These include:

1-In vivo exposure
2-Imaginal exposure
3-Virtual reality exposure
4-Interoceptive exposure
5-Graded exposure
7-Systematic desensitization
11-Emotional processing

With CBT, you can apply this application with different techniques. It is often possible to apply these techniques to yourself. But in general Exposure Therapy and CBT goes hand-in-hand.

This video features a girl with dog phobia. Exposure therapy is used to reduce his anxiety.

Want to learn more about Exposure Therapy and CBT? Click here.

Last Updated on December 2, 2021 by Lucas Berg


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