Exposure Therapy is based on the fact that anxiety usually goes down after long enough contact with something feared.
People with obsessions about germs are taught to stay in contact with “germy” objects (e.g., handling money) until their anxiety is extinguished. The person’s anxiety tends to decrease after repeated exposure until he or she no longer fears the contact. Graded exposure therapies are commonly used to treat phobias. Graded exposure teaches individuals how to tolerate mildly anxiety provoking stimuli first and then gradually face more fearful stimuli and situations. Response prevention can be a highly effective method of treating the rituals occurring with OCD. Response prevention teaches individuals to expose themselves to feared stimuli and learn to prevent the patterned ritualistic responses they perform to reduce their anxiety.
Contact Behavior Therapy of New York to learn more about how exposure therapy can help.