This is a treatment method which has been scientifically proven to help individuals suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety Disorders. ERP is not only effective in reducing OCD symptoms, but may also result in generalized improvements in depressed mood, social anxiety and psychopathology.
The Exposure in ERP refers to exposing yourself to the thoughts, images, objects and situations that make you anxious and/or start your obsessions. The Response Prevention part of ERP refers to making a choice not to do a compulsive behavior once the anxiety or obsessions have been “triggered.” All of this is done under the guidance of a trained therapist at the beginning — though you will eventually learn to do your own ERP exercises to help manage your symptoms. The therapist will work with you to set goals, identify your fears, thoughts, obsessions and compulsions, and make an individualized treatment plan specifically for you.
With ERP, the difference is that when you make the choice to confront your anxiety and obsessions you must also make a commitment to not give in and engage in the compulsive behavior. When you don’t do the compulsive behaviors, over time you will actually feel a drop in your anxiety level. This natural drop in anxiety that happens when you stay “exposed” and “prevent” the compulsive “response” is called habituation.
ERP can also be used in conjunction with Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT). In this model, the power of meaning and thought is defused, there is acceptance of experiencing anxiety, and commitment to striving for values that are important for you.
If you have questions about Exposure Response Prevention, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, and/or think this could be helpful to you, please call our office at 314-275-8599.