Using multiple contexts and retrieval cues in exposure-based therapy to prevent relapse in anxiety disorders

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Abstract

The benefits of exposure-based interventions for anxiety disorders are substantial but not stable for everyone, given that these interventions are often followed by relapse of symptoms. A body of research provides a background on how to add certain strategies in exposure-based therapy to prevent relapse in anxiety disorders. This review summarizes some of these strategies and provides clear-cut clinical implications. Studies that provide support for two types of strategies to prevent relapse have been reviewed—the use of multiple contexts and the use of retrieval cues. The use of multiple contexts reduces context and stimulus specificity of extinction learning during exposure, while the use of retrieval cues enhances memory (re)consolidation and retrieval after exposure. The described strategies to enhance the accessibility and therefore the retrievability of exposure-based learning to prevent relapse in anxiety disorders can be summarized as advice to conduct exposure under variable conditions. This way, the generalizability of what is learned during exposure to the patients’ daily life after treatment improves. Therefore, adding these strategies in the course of exposure-based treatment of anxiety disorders seems beneficial. However, future replications and translational studies are needed to verify ecological validity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-165
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Practice
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2019

Keywords

  • PANIC DISORDER
  • FEAR EXTINCTION
  • SAFETY-SEEKING
  • RENEWAL
  • RETURN
  • BEHAVIOR
  • REINSTATEMENT
  • ABA
  • CBT
  • ENHANCEMENT

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