Helping Exposure Succeed: Learning Theory Perspectives on Treatment Resistance and Relapse

  • Mark B. Powers
  • Bram Vervliet
  • Jasper A.J. Smits
  • Michael W. Otto
Part of the Series in Anxiety and Related Disorders book series (SARD)


Exposure-based interventions are core to the psychosocial treatment of anxiety disorders. Protocols utilizing these elements are associated with some of the highest effect sizes in the anxiety treatment literature (e.g., Hofmann & Smits, 2008). These interventions rely on the use of experience to aid the learning of safety in relation to the core fears underlying anxiety disorders; yet, the efficacy of these interventions may be limited by a number of contextual and procedural challenges. This chapter provides a review of studies of these procedures and parameters and provides a conceptual overview of a heuristic for guiding exposure interventions. Relative to this heuristic we attend to the stimulus properties, duration, spacing, gradation, and, particularly, context of exposure interventions.


Anxiety Disorder Social Anxiety Disorder Panic Disorder Extinction Trial Fear Memory 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark B. Powers
    • 1
  • Bram Vervliet
    • 1
  • Jasper A.J. Smits
    • 2
  • Michael W. Otto
    • 3
  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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