Benefits Of Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) In The Treatment Of OCD
Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) is a form of therapy that is designed to encourage people, especially those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), to face their fears and allow their obsessive thoughts to occur without feeling the need to neutralize them with compulsions. The exposure therapy begins with a confrontation of situations and items which cause anxiety that you know you can tolerate. After a few exposures, you will start to notice that your anxiety does not rise as high as before and will not as long.
When you notice this, you can then move to harder exposure practices. ERP is a common form of therapy that is used in many parts of the world is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).CBT includes some aspects of ERP, but it is wider to offer the benefits of improvement in cognition. When CBT behavioral experiments are done on people who have OCD, the patients can find out the consequences of not checking or performing their rituals. In addition to just riding out their anxiety as in ERP, the CBT strategies help the patient to recognize that they are ultimately responsible for the outcome of the therapy if they do not do as they are instructed. The therapists, in most cases, acknowledge that there is always a risk of something bad happening if the patient fails to handle their compulsions. However, it is also recognized that the compulsions themselves can magnify their own perception of risk.
Many experts involved with the treatment of OCD agree that the use of ERP therapy is effective. One of the approaches in ERP is referred to as flooding, and it involves the exposure of the patient to their worst fears in their early stages. Flooding is about immersing the individual suffering from OCD in environments and situations that they fear the most. They are then left to stay in that situation or the environment until their innermost fears and anxiety reduces to normal levels, and the situation becomes less bothersome to them.
You can liken it to a swimming pool experience. If you have jumped into the deep end of the pool and experienced the shock of cold pool water by surprise and as you immerse your body in water, it begins to acclimatize to the temperatures in the water. ERP and flooding are similar to that. You are exposed to something that makes you anxious until the anxiety subsides just the same way the body will get used to the water temperature.
When you are in that cold end of the pool, you will first appreciate that it is crucial to learn and swim. In the same manner, when you are exposed to stimuli that make you anxious, you should have it at the back of your mind that you must conquer your fears, which is the cognitive part of the ERP therapy.
If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD, take your time to find a reputable ERP specialist with successful experience helping other patients.