When people are fearful of something, they tend to avoid those feared objects, activities, or situations. Although this avoidance might help reduce anxiety in the short term, over the long term it can make the fear become even worse. ERP is the #1 recommended treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and phobias. It works by breaking the link between your obsessional thoughts, images, or impulses and the compulsive things you do to relieve the distress they cause, including avoidance behaviors. ERP includes gradual exposure to situations which cue obsessions while refraining from compulsive behaviors. ERP involves facing actual situations as well as imagined situations (e.g., imaginal exposures), approaching least-to-most distressing situations in a systematic, organized manner. Each time you carry out an ERP exercise it becomes easier and easier, and the anxiety or distress gradually subsides.
Examples of therapy goals for treating OCD:
ERP Example for OCD
What ERP Treatment is Like
Specialized OCD & Anxiety Treatment