50 Ways to Untwist Your Thinking Part 10
Exposure Techniques for Anxiety
39. Gradual Exposure and Flooding- Gradual Exposure and Flooding are both forms of exposure therapy for anxiety disorders. When you use Gradual Exposure, you expose yourself to the thing you fear in small steps so that it won’t be quite so terrifying. In contrast, when you use flooding, you expose yourself to the thing you fear all at once. For example, if you have an elevator phobia, force yourself to get on an elevator and stay there, no matter how anxious you feel, until your fear disappears. Gradual Exposure is less traumatic, but it takes longer. Flooding is much more frightening, but it works more rapidly. Both approaches have been used successfully in the treatment of nearly all forms of anxiety.
40. Response Prevention- Response Prevention is an important key to the treatment of all forms of anxiety. It’s often combined with Exposure. For example, let’s say you have a powerful urge to check the mailbox over and over after you drop a letter in. Using Response Prevention, you would drop a letter into the mailbox and walk away without checking it as you usually do. Your anxiety will temporarily get worse, and you’ll feel compelled to check it. But if you refuse to give in to the urge to check the mailbox, your anxiety will eventually disappear.