Ep. 182: What is ERP?
Welcome back to another episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit. Today we are discussing Exposure and Response Prevention or ERP. So what exactly is ERP? Well, many years ago a psychologist created exposure therapy, which is where we expose people to their fears. If you were afraid of dogs, we would expose you to pictures of dogs and then videos of dogs and then we would probably ask you to go pet a dog, that is exposure therapy. This was found to be highly successful; however, over the course of time, more research suggested that doing exposures alone is good, but it doesn't completely address the whole picture of OCD because OCD does not just involve obsessions, it also involves compulsions. Exposure therapy did not really address compulsions. So a different method was added on and that is the response prevention. You expose yourself to your fear and then you would do response prevention, which would mean you would not engage in the compulsion to remove the discomfort, uncertainty, or anxiety that you are feeling. ERP is a treatment that addresses both the obsession by exposing and the compulsion by doing response prevention. Now, this is groundbreaking and the research has shown that the outcomes are really good, which is wonderful because for many years, we did not have a great treatment for OCD. Since then we have actually added on other modalities to make it even better. We have inhibitory learning, acceptance and commitment therapy, compassion focused therapy, and mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy. All of these additional modalities really help to increase motivation and help to manage your discomfort as it rises and falls. A lot of people will ask if ERP can work if you do not engage in physical compulsions because as we know many people with OCD will engage in hidden compulsions that no one can see. Those are typically avoidance and mental compulsions. From the outside you may never know that they are struggling with mental compulsions all day because they are ruminating and playing out potential scenarios in their minds. It is so important to identify the mental or avoidant compulsions you are doing and that would be a part of your ERP as well. So that's ERP in a nutshell. Is it easy? Oh no, it's not easy. Is it hard? Oh yes, it is hard. But what am I about to say, say it with me everybody, it is a beautiful day to do hard things. Can you do hard things? Absolutely. If you get a moment, please go over to wherever you listen to podcasts, whether that be Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Podbean, and leave an honest review. Tell me how you feel about it, whether it's helping you, what you'd like to see. We are going to give away a pair of Beats headphones of your choice of color once we hit a thousand reviews! ERP School, BFRB School and Mindfulness School for OCD are open for purchase. Click here for more information. Beginning today March 19th and continuing until April 1st, ERP School will be available with bonus material. This will be an amazing training on the motivational skills Kimberley teaches her clients to help them in their treatment and recovery! Additional exciting news! ERP School is now CEU approved which means that it is an accredited course for therapists and mental health professionals to take towards their continuing education credit hours. Please click here for more information.