Exposure with Response Prevention is an intervention used in therapy to treat fears, obsessions and compulsions and is the treatment of choice for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The therapist works with the client to identify a list of fears/obsessions/compulsions that are rated for intensity and listed in a hierarchy. Beginning lowest on the list, the therapist gradually exposes the client to the stimulus while working to teach emotional tolerance and anxiety management, as well as relaxation strategies and coping skills.
By “exposing” the client, either live or imagined, to the feared stimulus, the client confronts the thoughts, images, objects and situations that create anxiety without indulging in any compulsive ritual behaviors. Over time, exposure reduces anxiety and creates emotional tolerance, and by learning to resist compulsive rituals the client is able to eliminate the obsessive and compulsive behaviors.
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