Exposure Therapy

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a form of CBT, and is aimed at maladaptive, excessive, or unreasonable anxiety. That is, for example, someone with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) will touch a doorknob, and they’ll think, “Oh, if I touch this doorknob, I might get a disease like HIV.” So again, the anxiety is out of proportion to the actual experience.

The intention in exposure therapy is to get your brain to signal you in a more accurate way. In an anxiety disorder, your anxiety system is giving you misinformation. It’s giving you information that you’re in danger when you’re,in fact, not in danger.

So exposure therapy — the idea is that we have you systematically confront your fears: go into those situations that are causing you anxiety. The idea is that you don’t leave that situation and you don’t do anything to protect yourself. It’s a very difficult treatment because your anxiety actually feels like it’s increasing in the moment, and it is increasing in the moment.

As that bad thing doesn’t happen, the feared consequence doesn’t happen, your brain starts to learn something new — “Oh, bad things don’t happen in the situation the way that I thought” — and your anxiety naturally starts to come down on its own. And that’s what we think is helpful in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

So with repeated exposures to those kinds of situations — where you go into the situation, you don’t escape, you don’t protect yourself — your anxiety will go down on its own, and you’ll have less anxiety in future similar situations.

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Be in the Moment!

It is too easy to get consumed by the daily tasks of being a mom, running a business, taking care of the home, organizing meals, and losing touch with the here and now. It’s easy to find yourself planning out the many other things on your to-do list while you are spending time with your kids. This can cause one to lose the moment. Time goes by so quickly, and in a flash, the many moments that make up “life” are gone. There will always be work to do, always chores to finish, deadlines and responsibilities to live up to. However, moments with your children, friends or family will have a much more lasting impression on everyone if you are fully present. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, so be conscious of the moment you are in, breathe it in and savor the experience for what it is.

TAKE ACTION!

1. Out of sight – out of mind

This week try to be aware of the moment for what it is. Keep work at work, and when you are home, really enjoy the time with your loved ones. Play just for the sake of playing. Realize that your work will get done when you designate time for work, at the office. Schedule time to just “be” and put work issues out of your mind, even if for just a short moment.

2. Be in the moment

Say the phrase “Be in the moment” when you find yourself thinking of other things. When playing with your children, enjoying alone time with a significant other, taking a walk, just “be” and relish what you are doing. The more you practice this week, the more natural it will become in your life.

3. Have fun!

Being in the moment will take on a life of its own. Try to bring fun back into everything you do. The more you balance work and play, the more productive and aware you will be in everything you do.

4. Prioritize

This week focus on prioritizing your time. It is easier to “be in the moment” when you know everything else will get done.  Plan your week so you have enough allotted time for work, work-related issues, and play. That way you can fully enjoy each of them knowing the rest won’t be pushed aside.

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