Standard Article

Exposure Therapy

  1. Steven Taylor1,
  2. Jonathan S. Abramowitz2

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0335

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Taylor, S. and Abramowitz, J. S. 2010. Exposure Therapy. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of British Columbia

  2. 2

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

Abstract

Exposure therapy is used to treat excessive fears, which are central to many anxiety disorders. During exposure therapy, the person is presented with a fear-evoking stimulus in a controlled fashion, until the fear diminishes. Treatment is collaborative, with the patient and therapist working together to decide how and when exposure will take place. Exposure duration depends on many factors, including the type of feared stimuli and the severity of the person's fears. Typically, an exposure session lasts 40–90 minutes, and sessions are repeated until the fear is substantially reduced or eliminated. Sessions may be either therapist-assisted or completed by the patient as homework assignments. In order to ensure that exposure is optimally effective, the patient is exposed to fear-evoking stimuli in a variety of different contexts to promote the generalization of therapeutic effects (Bouton, 2002).

Keywords:

  • exposure therapy;
  • emotional processing;
  • conditioning;
  • fear;
  • anxiety