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(p. 19) Why Do People Get Better With Exposure Therapy? 

(p. 19) Why Do People Get Better With Exposure Therapy?
(p. 19) Why Do People Get Better With Exposure Therapy?

Carolyn Black Becker

, Nicholas R. Farrell

, and Glenn Waller

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date: 29 September 2020

This chapter outlines a theoretically based rationale for using exposure consistently in the treatment of individuals with eating disorders. Due to the substantial overlap between eating disorders and anxiety disorders (both in symptom content and in comorbidity between the conditions), exposure therapy is a sound choice for therapeutic intervention. Indeed, the most evidence-based treatments for eating disorders contain a number of exposure-based strategies that drive much of the therapeutic benefit. The chapter discusses habituation, systematic desensitization, and inhibitory learning and differentiates exposure therapy from systematic desensitization. Using a case study to consider how exposure therapists can help patients learn to tolerate their anxiety by leaning into it rather than engaging in safety behaviors, this chapter lays the foundation for the application of exposure therapy to patients with eating disorders.

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