Is That an Exposure….or a Ritual?


by master isolated images freedigitalphotos.net

For the next few weeks I will be sharing some of my older posts. This guest post by Seth J. Gillihan, PhD, first appeared on my blog in September 2013….

In exposure and response prevention (ERP) for OCD, the OCD sufferer deliberately confronts situations and thoughts that provoke distress (the exposure part), and resists the urge to do compulsive behaviors (the response prevention). This combination eventually makes the situations and thoughts less upsetting and makes it easier to stop doing compulsions.

Most of the time it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between exposure and rituals. In the short-term, good exposures raise a person’s level of distress, whereas rituals lower distress. For example, consider a person with contamination-related OCD. This individual is likely to feel worried and anxious about touching a dirty sink, and probably would feel a drop in anxiety if she were…

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