Evidence-based treatments for anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder all rely on the application of exposure to alleviate symptoms. Basic laboratory research and recent clinical investigations have led to advances in the conceptualization and delivery of exposure procedures. Whereas former models of exposure emphasize activation of the fear memory network, the recent inhibitory learning model emphasizes new experiences associated with the feared stimuli, which may or may not include the experience of fear as part of the exposure exercises. This shift has several advantages, notably that it enhances the acceptability of exposure among clinicians and increases the likelihood that clients can successfully engage in exposure during and between sessions. Inhibitory learning emphasizes several approaches to alleviate fear, such as expectancy violations; conducting exposure in multiple contexts; judicious removal of safety cues; affect labeling; and exposure to variable levels on the hierarchy. These approaches collectively provide clinicians with a broader toolkit of methods to successfully engage clients in the process of exposure therapy, and are specifically oriented to promote more durable symptom relief.
This webinar has the following two broad aims. First, this webinar will cover the inhibitory learning model, and how it is distinct from the former fear activation model of exposure therapy. Included in this coverage will be how the inhibitory learning approach has greater appeal to clinicians. The second aim is to demonstrate how these different approaches within the inhibitory learning model may be applied to anxiety related clinical problems. This latter aim will be covered through illustrative case examples.