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OCD: Exposure and Prevention Therapy

Topic Overview

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy is an effective way to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). With exposure and response prevention therapy, you repeatedly expose yourself to an obsession, such as something you fear is contaminated, and deny yourself the ritual compulsive act, which in this case would be washing your hands.

ERP helps break the link between your obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals. This process is repeated every day for several weeks or months until your anxiety is reduced and you do not feel the need to perform the compulsive behavior in response to the obsessive thought.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised June 5, 2012

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