What is ERP Therapy?

Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy is a type of exposure therapy that uses the same principles as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In ERP, we expose ourselves to distressing situations and then prevent our immediate urge to respond with a compulsive act. Over time, we learn to tolerate anxiety-provoking thoughts and situations in a more productive way.

ERP is about facing your fears and learning that it isn’t that bad (even though it feels bad in the moment).

For example, we might expose ourselves by placing our hands in dirt. Normally, we would immediately wash our hands to provide temporary relief and may continue to do so repeatedly lest they aren’t actually clean. When implementing ERP, we would refrain from washing our hands which would be very uncomfortable. We would sit with this discomfort for as long as we can.

Over time, we would become more tolerant of the discomfort as we learn that we are okay despite not washing our hands immediately and repeatedly. Obviously, this is much easier said than done. 

For more information about Exposure Response Prevention Therapy, click here.

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