Interoceptive Exposure

Unhelpful beliefs about body sensations are critical maintaining factors in a range of disorders such as panic, health anxiety, or chronic subjective dizziness. Biased beliefs lead to biased behavior – typically avoidance. While attempted avoidance of certain situations or events can sometimes be successful, attempted avoidance of normal bodily sensations is rarely so adaptive and can be particularly restrictive. Exposure to bodily sensations (interoceptive exposure) is an important component of treatment – especially for panic, but for any problem where normal body sensations are experienced as threatening. Interoceptive exposure is a three-page guide that gives information about the rationale for ithis technique, safety information regarding its use, and a series of interoceptive exposure exercises. Interoceptive exposure can be a particularly powerful in-session behavioral experiment in therapy – a graded approach to homework is recommended.

Detailed instructions for interoceptive exposure are given on the Pro version of this worksheet

  • Barlow, D. H., Craske, M. G. (2007). Mastery of your anxiety and panic (Fourth edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Chambless, D. L., & Gracely, E. J. (1989). Fear of fear and the anxiety disorders. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 13(1), 9-20. ed.gov
  • Clark, D. M., Salkovskis, P. M., Öst, L. G., Breitholtz, E., Koehler, K. A., Westling, B. E., ... & Gelder, M. (1997). Misinterpretation of body sensations in panic disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65(2), 203.
  • Deacon, B. J., Lickel, J. J., Possis, E. A., Abramowitz, J. S., Mahaffey, B. G., & Wolitzky-Taylor, K. (2012). Do cognitive reappraisal and diaphragmatic breathing augment interoceptive exposure for anxiety sensitivity?. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 26(3), 257-269 uw-anxietylab.com
  • Lee, K., Noda, Y., Nakano, Y., Ogawa, S., Kinoshita, Y., Funayama, T., & Furukawa, T. A. (2006). Interoceptive hypersensitivity and interoceptive exposure in patients with panic disorder: specificity and effectiveness. BMC Psychiatry, 6(1), 32. biomedcentral.com


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