Exposure therapy can be described as a behavioral therapy which is used to treat anxiety disorder. This process of therapy involves exposure of the patient to that particular feared object or context so that they can overcome their anxiety without any danger. According to studies, exposure therapy effectively helps to prevent the development of acute stress disorder to post traumatic disorder.
The main aim of exposure therapy is to help the traumatized patient so that he/she can face as well as gain control over the distress and fear that he/she has experienced during that period of time. This method should be executed very carefully so that the patient should not experience the same traumatized scenario.
The therapist needs to work with the patient very carefully to understand the method which will be suitable for him/her. While some patients response with direct confrontation with the trauma memories, the others may response by utilizing relaxing techniques.
This process of exposure therapy started its journey in 1950s when the behavioral therapy movement took place. The South African psychologists and psychiatrists first brought this method of exposure therapy to England for reducing pathological fear like the problems related to anxiety and phobias.
Techniques of Exposure Therapy
From technical aspect, exposure therapy can be divided into following categories:
Vivo Exposure Therapy
In this process of exposure therapy, direct approach is used to deal with different situation. For example if a person suffers from a fear of public speaking then he/she can be asked to throw a small speech to a group of person to channelize the fear in a direct manner.
Imaginal Exposure Therapy
This is the second pattern of exposure therapy in which patients can be asked to imagine any kind of circumstances that he/she may afraid of. This process seems to be beneficial for those who need to face feared memories as well as thoughts.
Interoceptive Exposure Therapy
This pattern of exposure therapy has its usage for specific disorders like post traumatic disorder or panic disorder.
How Exposure Therapy can be used:
Generalize Anxiety Disorder
Evidence proves that exposure therapy has effectively successful in treating generalized anxiety disorder. The aim of this therapy is to endorse emotional regulation through controlled and systematic exposure to the traumatic stimuli.
To deal with specific phobia, exposure therapy would be the best choice for anyone. Especially with the assistance of imaginal exposure therapy for preferably one to three hours of session, patients who are suffering with specific phobias can be treated.
For example agoraphobia disorder can be treated with the help of exposure therapy in which a person may get afraid of being alone in home or may experience the feeling of getting trapped.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Exposure therapy has shown it efficacy in treating post traumatic disorders. Virtual reality exposure therapy which can be regarded as the modern version of exposure therapy has been used on active Army soldiers and the result has shown its effectiveness as well as succession in treating post traumatic disorder.