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Exposure Therapy, Ethics in

Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that has been empirically supported for the treatment of anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and trauma- and stressor-related disorders. Exposure therapy involves the systematic contact of feared situations or stimuli, often in a graduated fashion (i.e., beginning with an easier situation and gradually increasing to a more challenging situation). Despite a large body of evidence showing that exposure therapy is both safe and effective, the treatment has not been widely adopted among mental health clinicians.

Many clinicians are deterred from implementing exposure therapy due to misconceptions about the ethical nature of the treatment. In this entry, several common misconceptions are examined: (a) exposure therapy is difficult to tolerate and will exacerbate psychological symptoms, (b) exposure therapy is rigid ...

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