What is Prolonged Exposure Therapy?

Prolonged exposure takes form in helping you gradually confront traumatic events, and memories.

There are 2 core components of Prolonged Exposure Therapy.

One is Imaginal exposure and the other is In-Vivo exposure.

  • Imaginal exposure involves the client talking and processing the feared object or situation to evoke anxiety, and ultimately decreasing the negative reaction to the feared object or situation.
  • In-Vivo exposure on the other hand, involves confronting a feared object, situation in real life, in order to decrease the negative reaction to the object or situation.

For example, let’s say you witnessed a bank robbery and want to be able to step foot in a bank again, but every time you think about doing so, your heart starts to race and memories from the robbery you witnessed start flooding back. Your therapist can use imaginal exposure as a warm-up to in-vivo exposure to encourage you to discuss the event you witnessed. Once you have processed the memories, you can work your way up to going into the bank again.