Exposure and Response therapy is primarily used for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
More than 7 million people in the United States are affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a mental illness that causes patients to have consistent worry and intrusive, stressful thoughts that they compensate for by performing compulsive rituals to alleviate the worries.
A common example is a patient who has an obsession about germs and cleanliness, and compensates by ritual hand washing or cleaning, or a patient who obsesses over their safety in their home, and will repeatedly check the locks on the house.
Obsessions can also be persistent and unwanted thoughts of committing violence, or thoughts that are prohibited by their religion. When the obsessions and rituals cause an interference in daily living or start to harm relationships, treatment is warranted with anti-depressant (Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Paxil, Celexa) and anti-anxiety (Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax) medications, along with cognitive behavioral therapy aimed at changing thoughts, behaviors, and facing and understanding fears. Diagnosis is made after symptoms persist for six months or longer.