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Bill Bergeman


10 Common Anxieties In Which Exposure Therapy Can Be Helpful

Exposure therapy, also known as graduated desensitization, is a cognitive-behavioral therapeutic method for reducing and potentially extinguishing anxiety a person experiences when confronted with some fearful stimulus.

In its simplest form, the method consists of a series of steps that expose the individual to a fearful stimulus in a manner that does not feel anxious. Then, step by step, the fearful stimulus is increased as the person learns to manage the anxious feelings that arise with each progression.

For instance, if an individual has arachnophobia (fear of spiders), the first step may be to place a spider in an adjacent room with the door closed. Once the individual feels comfortable with that scenario, the next step would be to open the door. Then, to bring the spider into the room, then to move the spider directly in front of the individual, and finally to place the spider in the person's hands. With each progressive step, the individual works to manage their anxiety until it feels controlled before moving on to the next step.

Below is a list of 10 common scenarios in which many of us can use a gradual method like exposure therapy to help reduce feelings of anxiety these situations elicit.

    1. Making telephone calls.

    2. Going on a first date.

    3. Leading a meeting.

    4. Talking to strangers in person.

    5. Creating and following a budget.

    6. Speaking in front of a crowd.

    7. Reacting to mistakes, especially when made in public.

    8. Posting on social media.

    9. Being the center of attention in a crowd.

    10. Exercising in front of other people.

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