Prolonged Exposure Therapy (also known as PE) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy specifically designed to help individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders. The therapy aims to help individuals confront and overcome their fears by gradually exposing them to the traumatic memories, thoughts and situations they have been avoiding.
PE therapy is typically administered as one-on-one sessions with a trained therapist, who guides the individual through exposure exercises. These exercises may involve discussing the traumatic event, reliving the event through visualisation, and eventually facing real-life situations similar to the traumatic event. The therapist will also provide guidance and support throughout the process, helping the individual to develop coping skills and strategies to manage their anxiety.
Principles of Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Prolonged exposure therapy is an evidence-based treatment for PTSD, with several studies showing its effectiveness in reducing symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts, avoidance, and hyperarousal. PE therapy has also effectively treated other anxiety disorders, such as phobias and panic disorders.
PE therapy is based on the principle that facing and confronting traumatic memories and situations, rather than avoiding them, is the best way to reduce anxiety and distress associated with PTSD and other anxiety disorders. By gradually exposing individuals to their fears, prolonged exposure therapy helps to desensitise them to the traumatic event, allowing them to process it healthily and adaptively.
One key aspect of prolonged exposure therapy is that it teaches the person to have a cognitive shift in how they perceive the traumatic event and how it affects them in the present. The therapist helps the person understand that the traumatic event is in the past and can’t harm them anymore, that the fear and avoidance are maladaptive, and that they can face and deal with them.
Role of a Trained Therapist in Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Prolonged exposure therapy can be challenging, requiring individuals to confront their fears head-on. However, with the guidance and support of a trained therapist, prolonged exposure therapy can be an effective and empowering treatment for those with PTSD and other anxiety disorders. It can help individuals to reduce their anxiety and distress and improve their overall quality of life.
Finally, it is important to note that PE therapy is not suitable for everyone. Some people might benefit from other types of trauma-focused therapy, such as Cognitive Processing Therapy. However, our trained therapists can help to determine which therapy may work best for an individual. So contact us today!