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Exposure Response Prevention

Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) is a hands-on approach in which you expose yourself to what causes you fear or anxiety, and simultaneously prevent the avoidance or ritual that you typically use when faced with this anxious situation.  ERP relies on the model of habituation, the idea that after repeated exposures to what is feared the parasympathetic nervous system decreases the anxious response, which in turn provides the proof that your thoughts need to believe there is no danger, thus decreasing emotional responses.  ERP also relies on the inhibitory learning model, which assists you in building skills to focus on the present moment experience instead of focusing on future oriented worries that may or may not ever occur.  The inhibitory learning model tends to be more effective for people with OCD, you can choose to give your obsessive thoughts attention or not, depending on what you want out of the present situation.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that incorporates acceptance and mindfulness strategies along with commitment and behavioral change strategies.  The goal of ACT is to engage in behaviors that bring us closer to our values and what we find meaningful in our lives.  ACT guides us to be present with and open to our emotions instead of trying to avoid or eliminate them.  We lean into these unpleasant emotions so we may observe them from a place of transcendence, or "self as context", where we are not our feelings, thoughts, sensations, and memories; instead we are observing these experiences.

In my practice, I use Exposure Response Prevention and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in an integrated manner to best meet the needs of each individual client.  No two clients have the same anxiety experience, therefor I find it vital, and quite exciting, to weave the two together in a flexible manner.  

A core principle of my practice is that I am inviting you to lean into your most uncomfortable experiences with curiosity and openness.  ERP and ACT are not immediate "feel good" interventions; sitting with your discomfort, whether physical, emotional, cognitive, or sensory; is inherently unpleasant...but so is experiencing anxiety and OCD.  My role is to guide my clients through this process with support and empathy (and an often-needed good sense of humor).  While this work is challenging, it's worth every moment to finally experience a meaningful and values based life where anxiety and OCD are no longer in charge.

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