What exactly is ERP therapy, and is it right for me?
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Clinically Reviewed 
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Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a type of therapy treatment. It can be used to treat a variety of different conditions. It involves intentionally exposing a client to stressful triggers or environments. The goal is to teach the client ways to respond to the anxiety-provoking situation without responding or acting on compulsions designed to alleviate the stress.

Interested in learning more? Take a look through the sections listed below to learn about ERP therapy and whether it’s right for you.

What types of conditions can ERP therapy help people treat?

  • Anxiety — ERP therapy can be used to treat clients with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can make daily activities difficult to complete. If you feel like your anxiety levels are through the roof, there are ways to control them. Exposure and response prevention therapy is designed to lessen the impact anxiety can have on a client’s life.
  • Phobias — ERP therapy can also be used to treat clients who manage phobias. Phobias can interrupt daily life and cause extreme distress to clients. Exposure and response prevention therapy can teach a client to manage their phobias. That way, the phobias do not cause further distress.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — Exposure and response prevention therapy is most commonly used to treat clients who have obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD is a type of anxiety disorder. It involves uncomfortable thoughts or obsessions and compulsions. The compulsions are meant to alleviate the stress caused by uncomfortable thoughts. It’s the primary treatment method for people who have OCD and has a significant rate of success. Treatment is the first step toward recovery for people with OCD.
  • Eating disorders — For people who have eating disorders, exposure and prevention response therapy can be used as a treatment method. Treatment involves desensitizing clients to fearful emotions about eating.

How does ERP therapy work?

  • The affected individual is exposed to a trigger or stimuli — The first component of ERP therapy is “exposure.” This involves presenting a specific trigger or stimulus to a client. It deliberately provokes stress.
  • The affected individual learns how to prevent responding to the trigger or stimuli — The next component of ERP therapy is “response prevention.” During the phase of treatment, a licensed mental health clinician will teach the client how to feel their stress or anxiety in a way that doesn’t involve compulsively responding.

What are some of the benefits of ERP therapy?

  • Teaching them skills to avoid responding to triggers or compulsions — One of the benefits of ERP therapy is that it can teach a person to avoid compulsively responding in negative ways to triggers that make them anxious.
  • Educating them about their unique triggers or compulsions — Exposure and response prevention treatment can also teach a person why certain triggers affect them — not only this, but also the triggers to be aware of.
  • Boosting confidence in functioning independently — This type of treatment may also boost an individual’s confidence in their own ability to function independently. Several kinds of mental health disorders can negatively impact a person’s ability to live independently, but ERP therapy may help improve that capability.
  • Rewiring the brain’s functioning — Some studies have shown that this type of treatment can create new connections in the brain, essentially rewiring it.

Lightfully wants to help you understand what recovery with ERP feels like

Our mission at Lightfully is to work with individuals to change their life compassionately. We strive to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients through a focused approach to process-based therapy. The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. Lightfully offers various layers of service to both adults and teens: residential treatment, Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP), Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also referred to as our Day Treatment Program. We regularly see clients who actively manage mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders and trauma disorders. If you are someone who has a fear or anxiety-rooted condition that you struggle to manage, we’d like to help you. Our licensed experts are experienced in dealing with clients with a variety of disorders. If you’re dealing with anxiety or a similar disorder, exposure and response prevention therapy may help.

Our licensed, clinical experts see each client as a complex and layered human — not just a diagnosis. We value our clients as they are and hope to enrich their lives through treatment. Our vision for the future is an authentic and loving community where everyone can be seen, heard, and valued as they are. We believe in the light within each individual, and when that light is properly nurtured it can allow a person to shine brighter than ever before.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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