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Exposure Therapy - Would It Help?

  • anonymous Asks ...

    I was bitten pretty badly by a German Sheppard when I was 11. I could have been killed but the owner of the dog saved me in time. Ever since then my fear of dogs has gotten worse and worse. Now I am 26 and I can’t even go to the park because there could be dogs there. Even watching a dog show on TV is difficult and unpleasant. If I want to get past my fear is exposure therapy the best choice? How long would it typically take for me to see some results? Do I need to find a person who specializes in this type of therapy or would any therapist feel comfortable with this type of thing?

  • Rev. Christopher Smith Says ...
    Rev. Christopher Smith

    It is impossible to address your particular situation without fully assessing your background , but there are some general points that can be helpful when looking at your situation.

    Addressing fears and its associated anxiety can be done in more than one way. Exposure therapy is a strong option to be pursued when there are strong fears, similar to the type you describe. The idea behind exposure therapy is to provide you with a series of experiences, each of which is faced with the supportive presence of a therapist, that gradually work you up to being able to face the situation that is most distressing for you. Generally, the steps between exposures needs to be small enough to enable the client to be able to make the progression. As a result, a person going through exposure therapy should be able to see some results fairly quickly even if fuller and more significant result take a longer period of time to obtain.

    In looking for a therapist, it is important to know that therapists only work within the area that they have appropriate training and experience. As such, not all therapists will be qualified to offer exposure therapy and even not all therapists will be involved in the treatments of fears. In addition to the base competence issues, there are some additional complications that arise in connection with exposure therapy. While some parts of the treatment may be done during an office visit, there are portions of the treatment that will not be able to be completed in the office and requires working in the field. There are some therapists who do not feel comfortable doing this as well as other therapists who are concerned about other aspects (liability, ability to bill insurance, for example) related to providing exposure therapy. As a result, if this is the form of therapy that you decide to pursue, it would be important to ask about this when you are first calling a potential therapist.

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