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Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP)

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Learn  how to manage your OCD thoughts, images, and urges so they eventually stop bothering you as much. 

What is Exposure & Response Prevention for?

Exposure and Response Prevention is a treatment for OCD. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition that affects 2.3% of adults in the United States. It's characterized by unwanted and intrusive thoughts that create a sense of fear, doubt, and uncertainty. These unwanted images and thoughts can lead to behaviors, or compulsions, that initially elicit a sense of safety and relief from these thoughts, yet, only temporarily. 

For many individuals, the pattern of intrusive thoughts or images, paired with compulsions that give a temporary respite from them, becomes time consuming. The cycle of trying to create certainty that these what-if, distressing thoughts elicit can wreck havoc on people's quality of life and relationships.

What is Exposure & Response Prevention?

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is considered the gold standard treatment for OCD. ERP works by reversing the cycle of avoidance of the unwanted thoughts or images in order to free people from the cycle of obsessions and compulsions so they can live better.

Similar to the old adage, what we resist persists, ERP also works by limiting the compulsions that only provide temporary relief, so that people can experience true freedom from their OCD.

What Does Exposure & Response Prevention Feel Like?

The 'exposure' part of ERP starts with confronting items and situations that cause anxiety, but anxiety that you feel able to tolerate. You are asked to do only what you are willing to.

The 'response prevention' part of ERP refers to resisting any actions that serve to neutralize or provide temporary relief from the fear. In other words, safety behaviors and compulsions are systematically decreased. 

After the first few times, you will find your anxiety does not climb as high and does not last as long. You will then move on to more difficult exposure exercises.

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