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(p. 141) Facing Physical Symptoms 

(p. 141) Facing Physical Symptoms
Chapter:
(p. 141) Facing Physical Symptoms
Author(s):

Michelle G. Craske

, and David H. Barlow

DOI:
10.1093/med-psych/9780197584057.003.0011
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date: 20 May 2022

This chapter studies the process of conducting symptom exercises with the client. Facing fear of physical symptoms means to deliberately expose oneself to the feared sensations that trigger panic attacks. Typically, these types of sensations are avoided. Subtle avoidance includes distracting oneself from thoughts about physical sensations, while obvious avoidance includes not engaging in activities, such as arguments or sexual relations, that elicit strong sensations. Avoidance precludes relearning and instead maintains the vigilance for and acute sensitivity to such sensations. Hence, an essential component of treatment is to confront repeatedly the feared sensations, so clients learn that they can tolerate the sensations and associated anxiety and that the sensations are not harmful. After a number of such practices, anxiety over the symptoms eventually declines. This process begins by inducing sensations using a set of standardized and simulated exercises, such as spinning and hyperventilating.

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