Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
ERP is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches individuals to gradually confront their fears. ERP was specifically designed to treat OCD and anxiety disorders. ERP is the gold standard treatment for OCD, enjoying vast scientific support. ERP’s results have been shown to be effective long after therapy has been completed.
The “exposure” in ERP involves progressively exposing yourself to the cognitions, emotions, objects, places, or events that trigger your anxiety or compulsions. The exposures will take place both in the therapy appointment and outside of it between sessions. Initially exposure is guided by the therapist after collaboratively creating a treatment plan. This is a client-centered approach, and the therapist will not try to push you farther than you are willing and able to go. This gradual, frequent exposure will allow your mind and body to become accustomed to the activity without giving in to the compulsions or other behaviors that perpetuate the anxiety. This habituation will eventually significantly reduce or even completely eliminate the symptoms that have previously had a huge impact on functioning.