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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Steps to Change Dysfunctional Living

Are you tired of living a dysfunctional and unhappy life? Are you aware that you have the power to change that? First, we must acknowledge that it is dysfunctional. Then, we need to take action to make positive changes. Here are steps to change your dysfunctional living:

1. Acknowledge that we are responsible for creating our own emotional problems.

2. Accept that we have the ability to change disturbances significantly.

3. Recognize and distinguish emotional problems from irrational beliefs.

4. Clearly perceive these beliefs.

5. See the value of disputing self-defeating beliefs.

6. Accept that we must work hard in emotional and behavioral ways to counteract irrational beliefs and dysfunctional feelings and behaviors. Nobody is truly happy living a dysfunctional life. The good new is….we can change that!

Irrational Ideas

Examples:       I must have love or approval from all significant people in my life.

                        I must perform important tasks completely and perfectly.

                        If I don’t get what I want, it’s terrible and I can’t stand it.

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