Virtuous Circle Counselling


Prolonged Exposure Therapy Calgary

What Is Prolonged Exposure Therapy?

Prolonged exposure therapy (PE) in Calgary is one of the most common and highly effective forms of psychological treatment for anxiety disorders. It has been proven to be successful in helping people with phobias, social anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, obsession and compulsions, and a number of other emotional and behavioral issues.

It is perhaps one of the most effective types of psychological treatment available for people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a type of cognitive behaviour therapy that has been found to really help people with ongoing flashbacks, panic attacks, and other symptoms in the aftermath of traumatic events.

Why You Should Consider Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) To Treat Your PTSD

PTSD is a debilitating mental illness that rises up in response to a traumatic event. When you experience a traumatic event, your sympathetic nervous system sends signals to your brain to store all the details of the trauma so you can avoid danger in the future. Unfortunately, if you’re not able to manage or cope with the anxiety triggered by these memories, they can turn into symptoms of PTSD.

For many who are struggling with their PTSD it is extremely difficult to open up to anyone about how they feel. It’s not that they don’t want to, they just don’t know what to say or how. This is where prolonged exposure therapy in Calgary comes in. PE has shown consistent success in many clinical trials for the treatment of PTSD. Some of the benefits include:

  • returning people’s memories to a normal state;
  • reducing avoidance behavior; as well as
  • helping desensitize people to stimuli that causes anxiety and fear when one thinks back on past trauma.

How Does Prolonged Exposure Therapy in Calgary Work?

Prolonged Exposure Therapy, also known as Prolonged Exposure (or just “PE”), is an intensive form of psychotherapy that aims to help individuals overcome their fears. This treatment includes the use of in-vivo exposure and imaginal exposure:

In-vivo exposure therapy focuses on confronting anxiety-inducing situations and stimuli. It involves the testing of negative beliefs and expectations about a feared situation by purposely involving oneself in it. These exposure methods are designed to extinguish the avoidance behaviors that keep fear and anxious feelings alive.

Imaginal exposure therapy focuses on recalling upsetting events while imagining it as vividly as can be. In therapeutic exposures, people are asked to describe and confront upsetting events in detail, describing them just as they would if they were talking with a friend or writing in a diary. This method is used to reduce fear by helping people face what they are afraid of, rather than by trying to avoid (or escape) it.”

With prolonged exposure therapy Calgary, a client works with a therapist to help overcome their fears. The goal of this therapy is to expose the client to their fear, in a controlled manner, until the individual becomes less afraid of it.

The Founder Of Prolonged Exposure Therapy

The progenitor of prolonged exposure therapy is Edna Foa, Director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania. Prolonged Exposure therapy was developed from the principles of behavior modification therapy and gradually evolved into the treatment plan that it is today.

Incorporating techniques such as mindfulness and imaginal exposures, PE therapy sessions focus on enabling patients to learn ways to manage their anxiety and feared objects/situations in ways that facilitate recovery of PTSD symptoms.

Throughout the course of their lifetime, most individuals will be exposed to traumatic events. While only a small amount of these individuals will develop PTSD, many others will experience some lasting effects from such exposure, such as flashbacks and emotional reactivity.     Prolonged exposure therapy is one method of treatment for PTSD that addresses the learned fear responses to trauma-related stimuli.

PE Is A Type Of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy That Helps You Face Your Fears By Gradually Recalling And Facing The Memories Without Distraction.

Prolonged exposure therapy can help you face your fears. When you are in the middle of a traumatic event, there are factors at play that make it difficult for your brain to register the experience as a fearful situation. These factors include being distracted during the fear-inducing situation, or experiencing trauma outside your control.

During this type of cognitive behavioral therapy you will face your fears by gradually recalling and facing the memories without distraction.The goal of PE is to help you learn to believe that you are in control of the traumatic situations that may be causing you distress. This will help you feel more competent when faced with similar situations in the future, so that recovery might be easier than before.


Prolonged exposure therapy is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that focuses on helping people overcome their fear of things such as heights or social situations through exposure to the feared object. Prolonged exposure is used to treat Post traumatic Stress Disorder, social anxiety disorder, and irrational fears of everyday life. Exposure therapy has been scientifically demonstrated to be a helpful treatment or treatment component for a range of problems, including phobias and panic disorder.

Prolonged exposure therapy is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders and research has revealed that it can continue to reduce symptoms after the end of therapy. PE uses imaginal exposure to reduce phobic anxiety. This means that, rather than exposing the person to the object or situation that they fear, PE encourages individuals to imagine themselves in a feared situation and then desensitize themselves to their fear.

They are similar in many ways, but EMDR is an accelerated form of exposure therapy that uses a moving stimulus to retrain the brain’s response to traumatic memories.

Book Your Appointment Online

We are currently accepting new clients however being a good fit is everything in a therapeutic alliance. When you’re ready, please contact us for a free 30-minute phone consultation to see if we match your needs and goals.

We at Virtuous Circle Counselling acknowledge Moh’kinstsis, the lands where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, in what we currently call Calgary. We acknowledge that we are visitors on Moh’kinsstis and acknowledge the Blackfoot are those who named this area as Moh’kinsstis. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we recognize the ancestral territories, cultures, and oral practices of the Blackfoot people, the Îyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Dene people of the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.