Does the judicious use of safety behaviors improve the efficacy and acceptability of exposure therapy for claustrophobic fear?
Exposure therapy is traditionally conducted with an emphasis on the elimination of safety behaviors. However, theorists have recently suggested that the judicious use of safety behaviors may improve the tolerability of this treatment without reducing its efficacy. The present study tested this notion by randomly assigning participants with high claustrophobic fear to receive a single-session intervention with or without access to safety aids during early exposure trials. Improvement was generally equivalent between the treatment conditions, and no reliable benefits or drawbacks were associated with the judicious use of safety behaviors. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.
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