Graduated Exposure Guidelines

  • Expect that you will initially experience some distress.
  • The object is NOT to block the distress or not think the thoughts.
  • The object is to EXPERIENCE the distress and let it BE AS IT IS so that you can learn that you don’t actually come to any harm.
  • So DON’T try to block the distress – let it wash over you – use your normalising statements and flashcard to help you.
  • Expect that you will feel strong urges to use your thought control strategies. Observe that and try not to give in to the urges.
  • If you feel that the exposure is too much then you may have to break it down into even smaller steps.
  • Remember to measure success by the fact that you DID the exposure experiment – not by how you felt during it.
  • Try to constantly challenge yourself without overwhelming yourself. This is why fear hierarchies are so important.
  • Don’t be discouraged if it seems to take a long time for your distress to come down. That is normal for most people who try Behavioural Experiments.

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