Exposure and Response Prevention
This may seem like a scary and intimidating modality practiced, and understandably so that your anxiety bells go off. But let’s take a moment to explore what this is, the practice of the modality, and how it can help you. “Overall, about 50–60% of patients who complete ERP treatment show clinically significant improvement in OCD symptoms, and treatment gains have shown to be maintained long-term.” This is still significant, and this is just ERP alone, when combined, the improvement outcomes increase.
Exposure and Response Prevention, also known as ERP, is a specialized form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It's specifically designed for treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and some other related conditions like anxiety. The technique can be thought of as a two-part process.
The first part, "exposure," involves direct or indirect contact with the fears or obsessions that trigger anxiety. This can be anything from a feared object, situation, or even an intrusive thought. The intention here is to gradually desensitize individuals to their fears, allowing them to confront and experience their anxiety in a controlled, therapeutic setting. I will NOT throw you into the “deep end” without learning how to swim first. We will conquer small stress that will help you build confidence to higher stressors.
The second part, "response prevention," is where individuals refrain from engaging in the compulsive behaviors typically employed to reduce or manage their anxiety. By repeatedly facing their fears without resorting to their usual coping mechanisms, individuals learn that their anxiety will lessen over time, and they can manage their discomfort without needing to perform these compulsive behaviors.
In terms of its benefits, ERP can help individuals with OCD and related anxiety disorders by breaking the cycle of obsessions and compulsions. The repetitive practice of facing fears and not engaging in compulsive behaviors can gradually lead to a decrease in the intensity and frequency of the obsessive thoughts. Over time, this can result in individuals gaining control over their anxiety rather than it controlling them.
It's worth mentioning that while ERP can be extremely effective, it is also challenging and requires a strong commitment to the therapy process. However, with the help of trained professionals, like me, and a strong support network, individuals can make significant progress towards managing their symptoms and improving their quality of life.
How does this apply to you and working with therapists at Better Minds Counseling & Services?
The therapists understand how intimidating and even scary ERP sounds. The first thing they will focus on is identifying lower-level stressors to work on, building your confidence, and building strategies along the way.
They will not push you into the deep end without you learning how to swim from the shallow end of the pool first.
They believe that with a gradual increase of stressors (items, situations, and more), you will begin to feel more in control of your OCD and anxiety.
They will incorporate innovative ideas for you to decrease the grips of anxiety and OCD over time.