How Exposure Therapy Can Help Relieve Social Anxiety
Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that uses gradual exposure to things that make you nervous or anxious. This can help break the cycle of avoidance so you can confront and conquer your fears.
When you have an anxiety disorder, avoidance of situations or things that cause distress can make the symptoms worse over time. You might also experience physical signs like shortness of breath or a racing heart rate.
The most successful form of treatment for social anxiety or any other anxiety disorder is exposure. While this can be a challenging step, it’s an integral component in recovering from these disorders.
Your therapist will assist you through every step of the exposure process. They will explain what symptoms to expect, why they occur and how you can reduce fear or anxiety.
Different forms of exposure therapy exist, such as imaginal, in vivo, applied muscle tension and virtual reality (VR). Some individuals may benefit from both real-life and virtual reality exposure techniques.
In vivo exposure is a physical experience you share with your therapist, such as holding a spider or sticking your hand into a container of blood. This technique may be especially helpful for people who have fear of needles or blood.
Graded exposure is a technique that begins with the least intense version of your feared situation and gradually increases it until you feel comfortable with it. This approach may be effective for phobias like spider fear or generalized anxiety disorder.
For instance, if you are afraid of snakes, your therapist could begin by showing you a picture and explaining the different feelings it elicits in you. After that, they might ask you to hold a real snake or practice holding it until you feel confident doing so.
Applied muscle tension is an exposure therapy that requires you to tense your muscles and raise your blood pressure, helping reduce the risk of fainting. This treatment may be combined with in vivo exposure or VR for treating various conditions.
Combining real-life and virtual reality exposure is an increasingly popular technique. This provides a great alternative for those with the time or resources to go through traditional exposure therapy sessions.
Group therapy offers the potential to motivate everyone involved to complete exposure tasks together. Furthermore, the setting provides an avenue to challenge relapse-causing thoughts and behaviors.
It is essential to select a therapist whom you feel comfortable with. Furthermore, speaking with multiple therapists before making your decision on a treatment plan may be beneficial.
You can locate a therapist through the internet or at a mental health agency. When selecting a therapist, make sure they possess training and experience in exposure therapy.