Psychological Therapies for OCD: ERP

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Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy aims to stop people carrying out their compulsive behaviours. Compulsions serve to temporarily reduce anxiety levels in people with OCD however in the long term they are negatively reinforcing since their anxiety returns subsequently they remain in a cycle of compulsive behaviours. ERP was developed by Meyer [1966]. 

During the therapy, clients are repeatedly exposed to a stimulus that causes anxiety but they are encouraged to refrain from resorting to their usual ritualistic behaviours. At the beginning of therapy, this is extremely difficult for clients so they are taught relaxation techniques to aid them coping with the high levels of psychological arousal they experience during the therapy. The therapist can make use of modelling techniques to provide the client with examples of how to behave. However, this process must be gradual, deliberate and forceful intervention is likely to make the OCD worse. Family members of clients can also take part in the therapy as there…

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