Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy is a type of Exposure Therapy that uses the same principles as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In ERP, we expose ourselves to distressing situations and then prevent our immediate urge to respond with a compulsive act. Over time, we learn to tolerate anxiety-provoking thoughts and situations in a more productive way.
ERP is about facing your fears and learning that it isn’t that bad (even though it feels bad in the moment)
In ERP, we expose ourselves to something distressing (e.g., putting our hands in dirt if we obsessive about contamination). Normally, we would immediately wash our hands to provide temporary relief–even though we will continue to wash our hands multiple times because we doubt they are actually clean.
In ERP, we refrain from washing our hands and experience a lot of discomfort. Over time, we learn that we are okay and washing our hands isn’t really lifesaving.