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Man Walking in Fields

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

Exposure and Response Prevention therapy is a sub-type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a hands-on treatment approach that focuses on reducing avoidance and overcoming feared stimuli. ERP aims to help the individual understand what is maintaining their fear response to a specific thing, while then build their abilities and make choices to break these patterns. ERP is an evidence based therapy and the gold standard of treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and OC-sprectrum conditions. 

OCD and OC-Spectrum conditions are characterized by persistent intrusive thoughts and the need to engage in compulsions or behaviors with the intent to neutralize these thoughts and the feelings associated with them. OC-Spectrum disorders are disorders that are not quite OCD but do share features with OCD. These include: Body-Dismorphic Disorder, Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors, Tics and Tourette’s Syndrome, Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), Excoriation (skin-picking disorder) and Hoarding among others.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and OC spectrum disorders are marked by significant distress, anxiety, disgust or fear associated with a specific stimuli such as a thought, image, sensation, idea, or feeling. One of the main symptoms in these conditions is an intolerance of uncertainty or an experience of something "never being good enough." This could mean never safe enough, clean enough, "just right" enough, certain enough etc. This causes significant distress and a persistent effort to fix, neutralize, avoid or get rid of the thoughts and feelings associated with this experience to no avail. This is return, reinforces the idea that these scenarios are actually as "bad" as they feel they are. For this reason these conditions can be significantly debilitating and time consuming.


Through ERP you will learn to identify and become more familiar with your obsessions and compulsions. Together with your clinician, through exposure work, you will lean into otherwise avoided thoughts, images, objects and situations that are anxiety provoking and distressing. By engaging in response prevention and not giving into compulsions you will develop confidence in your ability to tolerate discomfort and uncertainty and provide yourself an opportunity to respond to these experiences in a more adaptive way despite how distressing they might feel.

Through ERP psychological well being and functioning is re-established. Proper diagnosis and treatment is key in allowing you to go back to normal patterns of functioning and living a full and happy life.

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