What is exposure and response prevention (ERP)?
Exposure and response prevention therapy falls under the umbrella of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
ERP is by far the most effective treatment we have to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Patients suffering from OCD often have thoughts, images, objects, or situations that create great anxiety. There is often a desire to escape whatever might be triggering anxiety through compulsive behaviors. Compulsive behaviors often give patients a temporary sense of relief.
For instance, if someone has a great fear of getting sick because of germs, they may often engage in excessive hand washing to be able to escape the fear. This pattern of feeling anxious and engaging in compulsive behaviors to escape feeling anxious is reinforced over time and can result in psychological distress. Often OCD symptoms can be greatly life-interfering causing problems in relationships and work-related responsibilities.
In ERP treatment, our trained psychologists work with clients to confront that which they are avoiding (the exposure part of ERP) and help them to stop engaging in the compulsive behaviors (the response prevention part of ERP). For instance, a psychologist on our team may work with a patient who has germ-related OCD and have them touch door handles around our building without then washing their hands. With repeated exposure to doing this type of exercise, the mind begins to learn that you can be exposed to germs on a door handle everyday, not wash your hands, and nothing terrible happens. As the mind begins to learn this, psychological distress is reduced and OCD symptoms decrease.
OCD is complex and can take on many different forms. Many patients are apprehensive about engaging in this form of treatment. Our compassionate therapists are here to help. Call or email us today to get help from our psychologists who are experts in using Exposure & Response Prevention for OCD.