Exposure therapy provides a valuable therapeutic intervention for many people who experience a variety of mental health conditions. Perhaps you're wondering what exposure therapy is. Are there different types of exposure therapy, and what can it possibly do to make your life better? This article will answer these questions and more. It will also show you how to get the help you need if you feel like you would benefit from this type of therapy.
What Is Exposure Therapy?
Exposure therapy is designed to help people overcome mental health conditions that arise from fear. There are specific ways to conduct exposure therapy, so that over time you gain more experience with the fearful stimuli in situations that are neutral or positive.
As you experience the same sounds and sights that you've previously associated with danger, you become less sensitive to them, and your fear eases. The goal of exposure therapy is to help you become less fearfully aroused when you hear, see, or otherwise sense stimuli that you associate with life-threatening situations. Exposure therapy is considered to be the top treatment for a number of disorders, and it can change the life of the person experiencing a mental health condition.
Conditions Treated with Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy treats a wide variety of fear-based mental conditions. It has been scientifically proven to be helpful for each of the following conditions:
In exposure therapy, you're presented with the stimuli that you associate with danger in tiny, incremental steps. It eventually helps you become less sensitive to them, breaking the negative associations. Each of the feared stimuli is ranked according to the intensity of anxiety you feel when you experience it. This is called the fear hierarchy. Stimuli on the fear hierarchy are presented in one of three ways: graded exposure, systematic desensitization, or flooding.
Flooding. Flooding is a way of presenting the stimuli that cause you fear, beginning with those that cause you the most anxiety at the top of the fear hierarchy. As you continue this intervention, the most anxiety-provoking stimuli begin to cause less anxiety.
Graded Exposure. In graded exposure, the fear-inducing stimuli are presented to you, starting with the ones that cause you the least fear. For example, if you feel extreme anxiety when you have to fly on a plane, your therapist might begin by taking you to sit in an empty plane on the ground. Next, they might have you sit in a plane full of people. Eventually, they'll increase your exposure until you're able to take a flight without significant fear.
Systematic Desensitization. Systematic desensitization combines either flooding or graded exposure therapy techniques with relaxation techniques. Because you are more relaxed before and during the exposure, the sights and sounds that you once associated with fear become more associated with a state of relaxation.
Types of Exposure Therapy
There are several variations of exposure therapy, each of which uses its own unique methods to help people overcome mental health challenges.
life-threatening situations. Because the traumatic event caused great fear, avoidance of situations that are reminders of that event may cause distress. This type of therapy works to reduce that avoidance.
Benefits of Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is a powerful tool to help with anxiety and fear-based mental conditions. For individuals struggling with these issues, it has many important benefits.
You can do things on your own to help lessen your fears or anxiety, such as relaxation techniques and acupuncture. But it's important that you're being safe with your body and your mind. If you decide to try something new, take it slow. You need to be able to wrap your mind around what's happening, so you will be able to process your feelings in a healthy way.
You might find that you need a little extra help from a counselor. A counselor can work with you to find an approach that works best for you. Treatment via exposure therapy has been proven successful and is well worth looking into to help you feel better and get back into life.
BetterHelp Can Support You
If you're still wondering whether exposure therapy is the right option for you, you can get the answers you need by talking with a counselor on BetterHelp. Online therapy is a convenient, hassle-free way to get help on your own terms, wherever you are or wherever you feel comfortable. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"Dr. Broz is a brilliant, kind-hearted woman. She listens to everything I have to say and responds promptly. We're in contact constantly with each other. Her worksheets are very helpful and I'm starting to work my way towards being able to better handle my anxiety and panic attacks. She is very relatable and often chimes in with stories of her own that relate to what I am experiencing as well. I would definitely recommend Dr. Broz to anyone in need of help or someone to talk to."
"Kara has provided a safe space for me to express my fears and anxiety. She has provided me tools to help manage my anxiety and continues to support me."
Exposure therapy is a process that can help lessen the symptoms of many different types of conditions. When used properly, it can take fear and stress out of situations that may have troubled you in the past. If you're struggling with extreme fears that affect your daily life, contact BetterHelp now, so you can start to feel like yourself again. With the right tools, it's possible to have a fulfilling life that's free from fear. Take the first step today.