Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety and Related Disorders
7 W 36th St, 15 Fl, New York, NY
(212) 203-9792

“But I’ve already tried exposure therapy for OCD and it just made me more anxious!”

"But I’ve already tried exposure therapy for OCD and it just made me more anxious!"

Evidence has shown that when exposure and response prevention is done correctly, it has a very high success rate. Unfortunately, there are several common reasons why exposure may have suboptimal effects. These include:

Response prevention strategies are not being emphasized.
This occurs in cases where mental compulsions have not been clearly identified or targeted or when treatment just focuses on exposure without emphasizing response prevention. At The Reeds Center, we take great care to ensure that response prevention strategies are well explained and practiced.

Exposure is not being practiced in-session with the therapist.
This is why early and difficult exposures are first practiced with one of our experienced therapists at The Reeds Center, who can guide the client and ensure he or she is not engaging in any compulsions or safety behaviors that can interfere with getting used to obsessions and the situations that trigger them.

Exposure it is not being practiced in the environment where they usually occur.
It is important that exposures are practiced in situations in which they are triggered. If therapy is limited to the therapist’s office, some clients will be unable to confront the situations and activities that trigger their fears and they will be unable to get used to these fears in their daily life.  This is why we make every effort to practice exposures with our clients in the places and situations where they are triggered.

Practice of exposures between-sessions is not being emphasized or practiced.
Evidence demonstrates that practicing exposure regularly between-session is critical for therapy to be effective. This is why our therapists at The Reeds Center emphasize homework practice and follow guidelines to ensure that homework is clear and that it is reviewed at the beginning of each session. Moreover, clients need to adhere to homework instructions to be able to effectively manage their OCD, which is why we work with clients to help them effectively practice between-session assignments when they are having trouble.