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Clin Psychol Rev. 2018 Feb;59:41-51. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2017.10.010. Epub 2017 Oct 26.

Exposure therapy augmentation: A review and extension of techniques informed by an inhibitory learning approach.

Author information

1
Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, 1 Brookings Dr., Campus Box 1125, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA. Electronic address: weismanj@wustl.edu.
2
Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, 1 Brookings Dr., Campus Box 1125, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.

Abstract

Although exposure therapy is often considered a gold standard behavioral intervention for pathological anxiety, questions remain surrounding the mechanisms underlying exposure interventions, and some individuals are characterized by suboptimal treatment outcomes. Recently, a formulation known as the inhibitory learning theory, which is grounded in basic science principles of extinction learning and memory, has been proposed to provide a more parsimonious mechanistic explanation for the effects of exposure than previous, habituation-based models [Craske, M.G., Kircanski, K., Zelikowsky, M., Mystkowski, J., Chowdhury, N., & Baker, A. 2008. Optimizing inhibitory learning during exposure therapy. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 46, 5-27; Craske, M.G., Treanor, M., Conway, C.C., Zbozinek, T., & Vervliet, B. 2014. Maximizing exposure therapy: An inhibitory learning approach. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 58, 10-23]. Strategies informed by this theory are proposed to maximize extinction learning by fostering the development of new, non-threat associations between stimuli in memory and enhancing the accessibility and retrieval of these safety-based associations. This comprehensive review serves as a critical examination of the empirical literature regarding major tenets of inhibitory learning theory and the potential for such techniques to augment exposure therapy for anxiety disorders. Limitations of the extant research, as well as potential future directions, are explored.

KEYWORDS:

Exposure therapy; Extinction; Inhibitory learning

PMID:
29128146
DOI:
10.1016/j.cpr.2017.10.010

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