The Mighty Logo

My Experience With Exposure and Response Prevention in Pictures

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a type of therapy most commonly used to treat OCD and phobias. This is the act of doing exposures to prove to one’s brain that their fear/thought is illogical. In order to prove to the brain that the fear is not reasonable, one must do that fear in a series of exposures that build up in advancement. Many people have asked me what this entails and the best way I could describe it was through my camera lens, taking pictures of what I do on a daily basis.

1. This is my ban book. In here, I track all of my submits, resists and undos of my compulsions. This day was particularly hard and I had over 300 head compulsions. (My head compulsion entails throwing my head back in order to protect myself or undo something I have thought or done.)   

2. This is my fidget collection. I keep at least four fidgets on me at all times for times of high anxiety and to resist skin picking. Often during hard exposures, I whip out a fidget and keep my hands busy to keep from any tapping or other compulsive behaviors.
3. This is me completing a book exposure in which I am placing my hand on a book and holding it there until I am habituated. The obsession with a book is that if I touch it, something bad will happen.
4. Flipping the pages of a book is another exposure for me. It also coincides with the same fear of something bad happening, but was the next step in this set of book exposures.
5. My medications are a big stable in my life. Without them, my mental illness as well as chronic pain would be uncontrollable. Although they do not fix the problem, they do make it easier to fight and get up every day.
6. I recently just began wearing gloves to stop from skin picking. Although very hard and anxiety provoking, I am able to resist the urge.

7. This is a lipstick exposure. Not only is lipstick a sensory thing for me, it is also a contamination obsession. This exposure works by putting lipstick on my hands and having to leave it on all day.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead image provided by contributor

Originally published: March 30, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home