A Exposure therapy is a certain procedure in the context of a psychotherapeutic treatment in which the patient is confronted directly with fear-inducing situations or factors. This is to achieve that the fear can be reduced. Exposure therapy should only take place under expert supervision.
Exposure therapy is a specific approach in the context of psychotherapeutic treatment in which the patient is confronted directly with fear-inducing situations or factors.
Under the name Exposure therapy Experts understand a component of psychotherapeutic treatment that is used, for example, when the patient suffers from anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders.
The symptoms of anxiety disorders in particular are usually triggered by one or more factors, which can lead to a panic attack. In exposure therapy, the patient is specifically confronted with precisely this triggering factor (it is therefore also called "exposure" as an alternative). It takes place under therapeutic supervision and aims to weaken or even completely subside the fears / compulsions.
Exposure therapy is not an independent therapy, as the name might suggest, but only part of a more comprehensive treatment. Studies have shown that therapists can achieve great success with anxiety patients with such exposure methods.
It is not uncommon for people who suffer from an anxiety disorder to be limited in their daily lives. Certain stimuli cause fear and panic reactions of varying severity in them.
These stimuli can either be rather unspecific situations (large crowds, narrow spaces) or very specific triggers (spiders). Depending on the severity of the anxiety disorder and the likelihood of encountering the respective trigger, anxiety patients suffer from their illness to different degrees. If you therefore seek out a psychotherapist, he or she can conduct exposure therapy in response to the patient.
In the course of this intervention, the affected persons are specifically exposed to the triggering stimulus; so they have to face what scares them most. A detailed discussion takes place beforehand, in which the therapist slowly prepares the patient for the upcoming. This means that the stimulus is first discussed and, for example, corresponding images or videos are viewed. Every step is precisely coordinated with the patient. Abrupt or surprising action by the therapist could make the anxiety disorder worse.
The last step is direct confrontation. The therapist is present all the time and has a positive effect on the patient. The goal of exposure therapy is to show those affected that their fear has limits. Anxiety patients often believe that their fear can "infinitely" increase and ultimately lead to their death. If you are confronted with the trigger, you will notice after a while that the fear does not increase, but initially remains the same and then even weakens.
Experts speak of a “unlearning” of fear, in which the patient realizes as the ultimate consequence that his fears were unfounded and that he will no longer suffer from them in the future.
A Exposure therapy Statistically, often achieves good results. However, it also harbors some risks for those affected.For example, if the exposure is stopped in the middle because the patient cannot bear the situation, this may worsen the symptoms.
Self-esteem can also suffer significantly if exposure therapy fails. In the worst case, the anxiety disorder worsens as a consequence, making treatment much more difficult. It is therefore of great importance for the success of the therapy that the patient endures the confrontation to the end. Last but not least, success also depends largely on the therapist and the relationship between patient and therapist.
The anxiety disorder can only be weakened or eliminated with the help of exposure therapy if comprehensive treatment takes place beforehand or in conjunction with it. The preparatory meetings are also of great importance. A therapist who does not adequately prepare his patient for the confrontation runs the risk of only exacerbating the anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy should therefore only be carried out if the patient agrees to it and there is a corresponding relationship of trust between the two parties.