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What You Need To Know About Exposure Therapy For Mental Disorders

Exposure therapy is a behavioral therapy used to treat anxiety disorders and phobias. It is usually carried out in a safe environment with a certified therapist. Exposure therapy has been proven to be effective for people of all ages.

How Does Exposure Therapy Work?

As a part of behavioral therapy, the person experiencing the problem is exposed to a situation or object that triggers his fear or anxiety. Exposing the person to the trigger in a controlled environment and in a safe space lessens the anxiety. There are different types of exposure therapies, which include:

Vivo Exposure

This involves facing fear in real life.

Imaginal Exposure

This therapy involves imagining the trigger situation.

Interoceptive Exposure

It involves intentionally triggering the person

Virtual Reality Exposure

This therapy is used when it’s difficult to create the feared situation. For example, some people have a fear of heights. 


Treatment for anxiety may include using a combination of vivo and imaginal exposure behavior therapy. Research revealed that imaginal exposure works better than nondirective therapy and rest for anxiety disorders.

SHVETS production/Pexels | Interoceptive exposure may help with reducing your mental disorder

Social Anxiety

It is for people who experience social anxiety. This includes avoiding gatherings or certain activities. 

Public Speaking

Public speaking is usually feared by young adults. Virtual reality exposure therapy is seen to be effective in treating it.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is most common in children, and exposure therapy is considered the best treatment for it. The child is exposed to the feared situation and is encouraged to adapt to it – with continuous exposure, the anxiety lessens.

Cottonbro/Pexels | Facing your fears in a controlled environment with a trained professional who can control your behavior helps to treat disorders

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Imaginal and Vivo exposure therapy is used to treat OCD. In vivo exposure, the person is exposed to the problem during the therapy session that ensures that the compulsive response is avoided. With time, the person adjusts his behavior according to the therapist’s guided behavior. 

Panic Disorder

Interoceptive behavioral therapy is used for people who face panic disorder. Working and discussing the triggering situation in detail with a trained professional has been seen to work best with kids and adults who face panic disorder.

Cottonbro/Pexels | Relaxation compliments exposure therapy and gives great results

How Effective Is Exposure Therapy?

Most people have either mild or no symptoms at all for the disorder they are facing. However, completing exposure therapy and combining it with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other treatments may increase its effectiveness. Relaxation also plays a vital role in getting better results when treating disorders. However, results depend on the severity of the disorder and its symptoms. Medication may also complement the exposure therapy, but it’s best to talk to your therapist before taking them.

How To Get Started?

Exposure therapy is performed by psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists with proper training. It is important to work with a skilled professional who has training in how to safely use exposure therapy techniques without causing more harm to your mental health. With proper techniques, disorders can be treated, so it’s crucial to seek treatments for them. 

You shouldn’t ignore your problem as it may worsen your physical and mental health.

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