Exposure Therapy for PTSD

Proven Methods of Treatment for Trauma Disorders

Are you curious about what exposure therapy is? Perhaps you have PTSD and have been told it can help. Or maybe you believe it could help a loved one.

If PTSD or Complex PTSD (CPTSD) has taken over the life of you or your loved one, exposure therapy is an evidence-based practice that has shown results in the lives of thousands of veterans and other trauma survivors.

Whatever the reason you are seeking help for trauma, read on to find out everything you need to know about Icarus Behavioral Health and the effective use of exposure therapy for PTSD.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a type of psychotherapy that has been used for decades to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder or Complex PTSD (PTSD or CPTSD). The goal of prolonged exposure therapy is to reduce fear and anxiety associated with traumatic events by having the patient repeatedly confront what they have experienced or learned. By facing and confronting their fears and anxieties, individuals can slowly learn to cope and manage their symptoms more effectively.

The first step in prolonged exposure therapy is for the patient to identify a list of their most feared situations, objects, or memories related to the trauma. The therapist then works with the patient to create an individualized plan that gradually gives prolonged exposure to these triggers in a safe way. This process typically begins in a relatively low-threat situation and gradually progresses as the patient becomes more comfortable.

For example, if someone is afraid of going outside due to past trauma, they might start by standing near an open window, then eventually make progress towards walks around the block and ultimately trips further away from home.

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The Creation of a Coping Plan for Trauma Related Memories

The next step is for the client to create a coping plan that will help them manage their symptoms during and after exposure. This might include deep breathing exercises, muscle relaxation techniques, imagery rehearsal, or other positive self-talk strategies. The therapist will also provide support throughout the process, providing encouragement and helping the patient break down large tasks into smaller goals.

After several exposures in a safe environment (often outside of the home), it’s time for real-world practice. Clients are encouraged to gradually try activities they had been avoiding due to fear or anxiety such as going out with friends, attending school or work, shopping at stores — whatever activity was avoided previously because of PTSD-related anxiety. As a client becomes more comfortable in these situations, they can continue to push the boundaries of their comfort zone.

What Are The Goals Of Exposure Therapy?

The goal of PTSD exposure therapy and PTSD treatment more generally is to reduce fear and anxiety associated with traumatic events by gradually exposing the patient to the triggers in a safe way. By taking small steps and breaking down goals into achievable tasks, patients can slowly learn to cope and manage symptoms more effectively. It’s important that an experienced therapist works directly

PTSD exposure therapy can be difficult and uncomfortable at first. It requires facing painful memories and intense emotions, which can be overwhelming and scary. However, with the support of a qualified therapist, individuals can gain the confidence they need to work through their trauma and learn how to effectively manage their symptoms.

Vivo Exposure Therapy vs Imaginal Exposure Therapy

Vivo Exposure Therapy

In vivo exposure therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims to help people confront their fears in real-life situations. During this type of therapy, you will be exposed to an anxiety-producing situation, such as public speaking or flying on an airplane. The therapist will encourage you to stay in the situation until your fear dissipates and eventually disappears. This can be a difficult process, but it can help you build confidence and overcome your fears.

Imaginal exposure therapy is an alternative to in vivo exposure therapy. In this type of therapy, you’ll be asked to imagine or relive situations that may cause anxiety or fear. Your therapist will guide you through the process of thinking about or mentally re-experiencing these fearful situations until your fear subsides. This type of therapy can be helpful for those who feel too anxious to confront their fears in real life, and it can help you learn how to cope with anxiety-provoking situations.

Exposure therapy alone has been found to be effective in treating PTSD and trauma disorders, and its effectiveness is increased when used alongside other therapies and medications. Working with a therapist to come up with a treatment plan that works best for you is the best approach when it comes to finding relief from your trauma-related

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Does Prolonged Exposure Therapy Work For Everyone?

Does prolonged exposure therapy work for everyone? The simple answer is no. About 10% of people with PTSD do not respond positively to prolonged exposure therapy, mostly because of the severity of their symptoms. The goal of prolonged exposure therapy is to help confront difficult memories in order to reduce anxiety and fear. Each person’s experience with PTSD is unique, so no two people will have the same outcome from prolonged exposure therapy.

Exposure therapy does require a lot of effort and courage on the part of the person. You must be able to take time and focus on your thoughts and emotions, as well as be willing to discuss difficult memories in a safe environment. Prolonged exposure therapy can also involve prolonged periods of distress which can be difficult to cope with. This means it is not right for everyone – particularly those who are unable to tolerate high levels of emotional distress.

Treatments in Addition to Exposure Therapy For PTSD

There are a range of different effective treatments for PTSD. The most common treatments for PTSD include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), exposure therapy, medication, talk therapy, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle changes. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular treatments for PTSD. This approach focuses on changing your thoughts and behaviors in order to reduce the symptoms of PTSD. With the help of a trained therapist, you’ll learn how to identify and challenge any negative thinking patterns that may be contributing to your symptoms. You’ll also learn new coping skills such as relaxation techniques and cognitive restructuring, which can help you better manage stress and lessen distress from traumatic memories.

Eye-Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing

Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a newer therapy that has been found to be very effective in treating PTSD. This method combines elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements, hand taps, or sound stimuli. The goal is to help you process painful memories and gain insight into how they are affecting your current life.


Medication is sometimes used in conjunction with other treatments to manage PTSD symptoms such as depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and sleep disturbances. Commonly prescribed medications include antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and antipsychotics. These medications can have side effects, so you should discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor before starting any new medication.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy is also an effective approach to treating PTSD and trauma-related memories. During talk therapy sessions, you will work with a therapist to understand the source of your PTSD symptoms. You will then be able to develop strategies for reducing these symptoms and building resiliency against future trauma.

Relaxation Techniques to Ease Traumatic Stress Disorders

Relaxation Techniques to Ease Traumatic Stress Disorder

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and mindfulness meditation can also help reduce anxiety and other symptoms associated with PTSD.

These techniques can often be incorporated into talk therapy sessions or done on your own.

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Get Exposure Therapy and Recover from PTSD at Icarus

Exposure therapy can be an incredibly powerful element of PTSD treatment, but it is crucial that you have your treatment with professionals. At Icarus Behavioral Health, we have helped dozens of clients overcome PTSD symptoms with exposure therapy and our other proven therapies and approaches.

Our mental health professionals are ready to help you do the work when you are ready. Contact us for more information now! All calls are strictly confidential, so please reach out in confidence today!

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