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Prolonged Exposure

Prolonged Exposure Therapist

Prolonged Exposure (PE) is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral therapy designed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, other trauma-related disorders.


How does it work?

The primary goal is to reduce the avoidance behavior and help the individual confront and process traumatic memories, rather than staying stuck in a cycle of fear.

PE involves two main components:


  • Imaginal Exposure: Clients revisit and recount their traumatic experiences in a controlled and safe therapeutic setting. Over time, repeatedly talking about the trauma helps reduce its emotional charge and distress.

  • In Vivo Exposure: Clients systematically confront situations or places they've been avoiding due to trauma-associated distress. Gradual and repeated exposure helps clients desensitize to these triggers.


What can a client expect with this treatment?

  • Assessment Phase: The therapist will assess the client's trauma history and the presence of PTSD symptoms.

  • Education: Clients are introduced to the PE treatment model and taught about common reactions to trauma.

  • Breathing Retraining: As a grounding technique, clients learn deep breathing exercises to manage anxiety.

  • Exposure Sessions: Clients engage in both imaginal and in vivo exposure exercises, starting with less distressing situations and progressively addressing more challenging ones.

  • Debriefing and Processing: After each exposure, the therapist helps the client process emotions and cognitions related to the exposure.

  • Homework: Clients may be given assignments to practice confronting avoided situations in their daily lives.


Throughout the PE process, therapists offer support, ensuring the client feels safe and empowered. Over time, distress linked to traumatic memories decreases, and clients often report increased confidence in handling previously avoided situations.


How does Prolonged Exposure apply to you and working with therapists at Better Minds Counseling & Services?

  • Therapists understand how intimidating and even scary Prolonged Exposure sounds.  The first thing they focus on is identifying lower-level stressors to work on, building your confidence, and building strategies along the way. Very similar to Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).  The difference here is that we will work to discriminate between safe and unsafe stimuli or something that evokes a response in you that you find distressing or unhelpful

  • 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 introduce innovative strategies to help you gradually reduce the hold of anxiety and OCD on your life.

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