Anxiety is a normal reaction to many things that most of us experience on a regular basis. For example, the mid-term exam that you know is coming up, the presentation you have to give for your boss, or having to make a move to a new city – all of these things could bring out a certain measure of anxiety in many people. However, when anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it affects a person’s day-to-day living, it becomes an anxiety disorder.
The wonderful thing is that most anxiety disorders can be treated with the help of a therapist and many patients can get back to living their normal lives with the appropriate kind of therapy. One of the most popular treatments available is in-vivo exposure therapy treatment, or desensitization. This form of treatment works especially well for people suffering from phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder.
In-vivo exposure therapy treatment is a specific type of cognitive behavior therapy that can help a patient face and gain control of the fears or distress that created their anxiety. With the typical anxiety disorder, the patient suffers from disquieting signals in their brain that tell them something bad will happen as a result of a certain action or situation. The intention of exposure therapy is to train the patient’s brain into a more accurate train of thought, so their anxiety system ceases to give misinformation. Several types of sensory items may be used in this process, including:
For example, under exposure therapy treatment, a person who has a fear of snakes might start out viewing a picture of a snake, then progress to seeing a snake in a cage from a distance, then finally move on to actually holding a snake. Throughout the desensitization process, the patient is taught multiple relaxation and coping techniques that help them complete each step and that also teach them how to handle fearful situations in their everyday lives. Over time, the patient becomes conditioned to the situation they have feared and it no longer provokes their anxiety.
The most important thing to remember with this type of therapy is that it should always be conducted by a well-trained, qualified professional. If handled improperly, the steps involved in exposure therapy have the potential for traumatizing the patient instead of helping them. However, in most cases where the therapy was handled by a professional, the majority of patients are able to resume daily activities that were previously avoided. Most people also experienced symptom reduction.