Exposure and response prevention therapy, or ERP, is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy used to treat a variety of mental health illnesses. Most commonly used for anxiety disorders, ERP is still somewhat controversial in its methods. However, efficacy rates have been shown high among those with compulsive disorders treated with ERP.

What is ERP Therapy?

erp therapy program exposure and response prevention therapy first step centerThe idea behind ERP therapy is exposing individuals to triggering stimuli for a prolonged time period in order to reduce the emotional response. In other words, clients are exposed to objects or thoughts in order to cause the onset of a panic attack. Exposure to triggering stimuli is controlled.

By increasing levels of anxiety, a person will have to learn other ways to cope outside of their normal escape methods, such as self-soothing through drug or alcohol use, committing self-harm, or initiating compulsive behaviors. Therapy continues until the resistance to using unhealthy rituals can be sustained for long periods of time.

ERP and Imaginal Therapy

Another ERP technique is through the utilization of imaginal therapy. In this case, a person is asked to imagine the thought-provoking fear or memory that harbors emotional stress. As the person imagines it, the therapist guides them through their responses.

Imaginal therapy is based on memories or scenarios that cannot be recreated. The idea is that after being walked through the memory or scenario enough times, the person can then see that their anxiety surrounding the thought is unrealistic, as they are safe now.

What it Works For

ERP therapy has been shown to be a leading therapy in treating people who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. It has also been shown to be effective in treating anxiety and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Because substance abuse is often a co-occurring with other mental health illnesses, ERP can be greatly beneficial for treating underlying causes that could be promoting one’s desire to use. Many drug rehabilitation centers offer ERP as part of a dual diagnosis program in which identifies and treats co-occurring illness, also known as comorbidity.

How to Know if ERP is the Right Treatment for You or Your Loved One

The best way to figure out the right treatment plan for you or your loved one is to talk to a trusted therapist. Depending on a person’s diagnosis, ERP may be suggested.

At First Step Center of Arizona, our team of addiction specialists provide individualized care for each client. With only 10 beds, our all-male clientele benefit from receiving a personalized treatment program tailored to meet specified needs.

We offer programs and therapies like:

Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need. No one need live a life in darkness. First Step Center understands this sentiment and believes in offering integrated treatment that offers a holistic method in helping you or a loved one get well. To find out more about ERP therapy or addiction treatment, call us now at 866.832.6398.