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Dr. Gary Small, M.D.

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Gary Small, M.D., is Chair of Psychiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center, and Physician in Chief for Behavioral Health Services at Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest, most comprehensive and integrated healthcare network. Dr. Small has often appeared on the TODAY show, Good Morning America, and CNN and is co-author (with his wife Gigi Vorgan) of 10 popular books, including New York Times bestseller, “The Memory Bible,” “The Small Guide to Anxiety,” and “The Small Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Tags: anxiety | therapy | fear

Exposure Therapy Can Ease Anxiety

Dr. Small By Thursday, 11 June 2020 04:38 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Most people naturally avoid things they fear. But that avoidance behavior actually serves to reinforce fears.

Exposure therapy is a treatment that helps patients face their anxieties through exercises that expose them — very gradually — to situations or objects that stir up bad feelings.

With gradual exposure training, patients confront their fears in a measured way, using systematic desensitization that creates a hierarchy of feared scenarios.

The patient is first exposed to their least frightening scenario. Once the patient is able to control his or her fear reaction in the least-scary scenario, they can move on to the next most frightening experience.

This continues until the most frightening experiences are adapted to.

For instance, if a patient fears swimming, a gradual exposure approach would first involve dipping a toe in the pool, and then a whole foot.

As that person becomes more comfortable being in the water, he or she can get closer and closer to overcoming the fear of swimming.

© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

Most people naturally avoid things they fear. But that avoidance behavior actually serves to reinforce fears.
anxiety, therapy, fear
Thursday, 11 June 2020 04:38 PM
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