Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP)

In Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

In Exposure with Response Prevention, people face uncomfortable situations while preventing their usual response or ritual. For example, someone with OCD might feel very uncomfortable after touching an object and feel a strong urge to wash their hands. ERP focuses on developing skills to avoid that response and to cope with the discomfort that occurs. With practice, people often report feeling less uncomfortable with their new response and a lesser urge to do their old response or ritual. The person and therapist work together to create a list of difficult situations ranked from easiest to hardest. The therapy will often start with the easier situations and work up to the harder situations. 

In Panic Disorder

In other struggles, such as panic disorder, the response to panic symptoms is often avoidance. People find themselves missing out on opportunities and experiences that are important to them as a result of this avoidance. It makes sense to avoid symptoms of panic, because they are a part of the body’s fight/flight, survival system. If something feels dangerous, it’s easy to understand why a person would want to avoid it, even if they are realistically not in danger. In this case, exposure therapy focuses on preventing the avoidance and instead focusing on allowing feelings of discomfort to occur. People working on exposure therapy for panic attacks will often start by facing anxiety symptoms at a mild level, while practicing new skills, before working their way up to more difficult scenarios. 

Exposure Therapy requires courage, motivation and openness. It is a very different type of therapy than talking through your struggles with a therapist. Each session consists of either some skill building or some experiential practice, or both. With the exception of the first few sessions, there will be things to practice outside of the sessions. If you are interested in doing this style of therapy and live in the Central Oregon area, please call 458-206-3579.