What are the Benefits of Exposure Therapy?

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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2019
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One of the biggest benefits of exposure therapy is that it allows a person to work through and sometimes overcome problems that cause him anxiety or stress. A person also can use it to overcome other issues, such as drug and alcohol addiction. People in need of the benefits of exposure therapy may find they are not as fearful in situations that used to cause them anxiety and that they do not feel the need to respond inappropriately — such as using drugs or alcohol, or engaging in negative behavior — when they are exposed to particular places or people.

Exposure therapy is a type of therapy in which a person is exposed to a situation that makes him anxious or scared. He endures the situation for a certain amount of time, doing nothing to protect himself and not removing himself from the situation the way he usually would when it starts bothering him. By tolerating his discomfort, the person is able to realize that what he feared would happen in such a situation did not happen. This retrains the person’s brain, allowing him to have a more correct response to the situation than he previously had.

There are a couple of ways that exposure therapy is used. A person may simply use his imagination, participate via virtual reality, or actually participate physically in a situation. Sometimes a coach is used, which allows for support in case the situation proves to be too much.


After many treatments, there is a good possibility that a person who has been through exposure therapy will be able to think differently about previously stressful situations. One of the best benefits of this type of therapy is that it seems to have long-term effects. This means the person may be able to face the previously fearful scenario without any feelings of anxiety in the future.

Another benefit of this kind of therapy is that it can help people with many different types of disorders. It may be able to help those who suffer panic attacks, anxiety disorders, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The benefits of behavioral therapy will vary for each kind of disorder, depending on the level of anxiety, the willingness of the person to participate in the therapy, and the amount of time spent on that therapy.

Many people use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism when they are exposed to a certain environment or are around certain people. Retraining the brain with exposure therapy can help to eliminate the physical and emotional response that occurs when a person gets into such situations. Once the response is eliminated, the person will usually not feel the need to drink or use drugs when he comes into contact with the previously stimulating environment or person.


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