Prolonged Exposure (PE)
Exposure is an intervention strategy commonly used in cognitive behavioral therapy to help individuals confront fears. Prolonged exposure is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches individuals to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings and situations. Through exposure, individuals presumably learn that trauma-related memories and cues are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided. By facing what has been avoided, a person can decrease symptoms of PTSD.
Foa, E. B., Hembree, E. A., & Rothbaum, B. O. (2019). Prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD: Emotional processing of traumatic experiences, therapist guide (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.
Prolonged exposure is typically provided over a period of about three months with weekly individual sessions, resulting in eight to 15 sessions overall. The original intervention protocol was described as nine to 12 sessions, each 90 minutes in length (Foa & Rothbaum, 1998). Sixty to 120-minute sessions are usually needed in order for the individual to engage in exposure and sufficiently process the experience.