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(p. 14) Theoretical Base and Mechanism of Action 

(p. 14) Theoretical Base and Mechanism of Action
Chapter:
(p. 14) Theoretical Base and Mechanism of Action
Author(s):

Stephen P. H. Whiteside

, Thomas H. Ollendick

, and Bridget K. Biggs

DOI:
10.1093/med-psych/9780190862992.003.0002
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date: 28 September 2020

Despite the strong empirical support for the efficacy of exposure therapy, disagreement remains regarding the theoretical underpinnings of how and why exposure works. This chapter introduces the primary mechanistic theories of how exposure leads to symptom change and then provides a working model synthesizing these theories. The specific steps for implementing exposure with youth presented in later chapters are grounded in the mechanistic theories reviewed in this chapter and integrated in the clinical model presented at the end of the chapter. The order of this presentation is based on the belief that understanding how exposure works allows therapists to apply this technique in situations that do not fit neatly within their previous experiences. Given the heterogeneity of anxiety problems, it is important to have a theoretical framework of the mechanisms of action to guide implementation and problem-solving.

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