The idea behind exposure response prevention is that you have the person, with the support of the therapist, come in contact with a feared situation, and then you work with them to prevent the usual response of partaking in their chosen behavior to alleviate that anxiety. These exposures are useful with various feared foods or eating situations; however they can go beyond treating eating disorders, for example, a lot of our patients have tremendous social anxiety and exposure response prevention is useful in helping individuals in social situations.
What our patients learn through Exposure Response Prevention is that after the exposure, the feared response does not occur and that anxiety does go down with time. What is important about this is that we work with our patients individually to design some level of graduated exposure in order for them to overcome their identified fears.
Another essential component of Exposure Response Prevention is that the therapeutic team must collaborate with the patient because not everyone can have the same exposure, otherwise it loses meaning. It needs to be intentional and have a particular purpose for the patient, and this is why we work so closely with our patients as collaborators in their treatment in order to help them return to wellness.