Exposure Therapy

Exposure Therapy

Topic Overview

Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. It reduces the physical or emotional distress you feel when confronted with a particular object, situation, or distressing thought or memory. During this type of counseling, you may relive a traumatic experience, confront a feared object or situation, or deal with a distressing thought. But you do it while in a controlled environment.

During this type of therapy, a counselor helps you while you remember or use your mind to see the feared object or distressing thought. The counselor also helps you work through the physical and emotional distress that you may feel during this experience. You confront and learn to cope with the distressing feelings gradually. And this reduces your symptoms.

Activities during exposure therapy vary, depending on the fear, distressing thought, or traumatic experience. Hypnosis and virtual reality are sometimes used. Often during this type of therapy, you are encouraged to:

  • Talk about your fears, thoughts, or feelings of distress.
  • Learn ways to face the fear, handle the thoughts, or deal with the physical and emotional distress.
  • View your fear, distressing thought, or physical and emotional feelings of distress in a different way.

You are also taught how to use various relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises. They help you deal with emotional and physical distress and fear. Using these techniques helps you keep a sense of control when you are confronted with the feared object, situation, or distressing thought or memory.

Credits

Current as ofSeptember 11, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.