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What Is Exposure Therapy?

Exposure therapy is a particular kind of behavior therapy that encourages the patient to face a situation, object, memory, or thought that he fears. One of the techniques of exposure therapy could include the patient reliving a particularly traumatic event in his life within a controlled environment. The objective of exposure therapy is to try and alleviate the physical or emotional distress that a person feels during that traumatic moment. Exposure therapy is a recognized method in treating phobias, anxiety and also post-traumatic stress.

When conducting an exposure therapy treatment, the therapist will assist the patient in trying to remember a particularly traumatic event or thought, or an object he fears. The therapist will help the patient in coming to grips with the emotions and physical symptoms that he will experience when confronting this negative event in his life. By facing these negative situations, patients learn and develop coping mechanisms, which would eventually help in reducing the symptoms. Sometimes it can even completely eliminate it.

During exposure therapy, patients are urged to talk about their feelings and they are also encouraged to try and learn different ways of facing their fears and handling the negative emotions that come up when faced with their fears. Hypnosis is also oftentimes used as part of the treatment methods in exposure therapy. At present, even virtual reality techniques are now being employed as part of the treatment tools for this kind of therapy.

One of the methods exposure therapy teaches for handling negative emotions are relaxation techniques, which help in dealing with both the physical and emotional stress that accompanies negative exposure to events.

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