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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Four Ways to Stay Hopeful about the Future

I’ve always believed that our thoughts are powerful—so powerful that they can influence what lies ahead. If we focus on our past difficulties and fears, we find ourselves struggling to nurture positive feelings about the next chapter. Here’s a plan for remaining optimistic.

1. Imagine the way you’d like your future to look.

Having a clear vision of what you desire evokes a sense of excitement, and issues an invitation to the future to pull you forward. Believing in your vision is the surest way to attract what you want in life; the key is to keep that vision energized with positive thoughts for tomorrow, regardless of what today looks like.

2. Move through your fear and let go of the past.

It’s natural for human beings to fear the unknown, and the future falls into that category; none of us can predict what’s to come. But what we can control is our mind-set. Don’t hold yourself back because you’re afraid or because you’ve been hurt. Instead, acknowledge your fear, accept it, and walk through it with confidence. Letting go is like a mental, emotional, and spiritual delete button. It doesn’t change what happened, but it removes that event’s power to continue hurting you. Until you make peace with your difficult memories, that pain will continue to bleed into your current and future experiences.

3. Stop rehearsing your limitations.

Talking constantly about what you cannot do and do not have can become habitual, and talking about what you don’t want to happen—”I don’t want to be single forever!” “I don’t ever want to go through that again!” “I don’t want to be broke!” – can end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

4. Live well today.

Often our lives are so overwhelming, over-committed, and exhausting that it feels like we will never accomplish everything we set out to. This leads us to believe that tomorrow will bring us more of today……..a day in which we’ll continue to be stressed. To pump some life and excitement into your future possibilities, you need to be joyful, peaceful, and grateful for what you have and what you’re doing right now. This means spending time resting, working, learning, nourishing, preparing, and loving. When we do things that keep us feeling alive and hopeful, we learn to look forward to a brighter and better future.

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