Exposure Therapy

Michelle Miller, M.D., Allison Bailey, M.D., Joseph McGuire, PhD


  • Exposure therapy is a behavioral therapy technique designed to reduce maladaptive responses to fear and anxiety.
  • Often administered in the larger context of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Involves therapist-guided exposure to feared stimuli and/or situations, typically in a graduated approach.
  • Patients learn to challenge misappraisals about feared outcomes, tolerate distress and uncertainty when confronting feared situations, and refrain from engaging in any behaviors that serve to temporarily reduce fear and anxiety (i.e., compulsive behaviors, avoidance behaviors, reassurance-seeking behaviors, accommodation-seeking behaviors).

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Last updated: May 13, 2022