Prolonged Exposure Therapy in NYC

PE Therapy can help you come to terms with past trauma and help you move forward with life

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)

What Is Prolonged Exposure Therapy?

Prolonged exposure therapy (PE) is an evidenced-based cognitive behavioral therapy method used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Numerous research studies show PE significantly reduces symptoms of PTSD and related depression, anxiety, and anger. This type of therapy focuses on teaching the patient to gradually approach memories, feelings, and situations that remind them of their trauma to increase comfort and reduce fear. With this gradual exposure, patients learn trauma-related cues and memories are not dangerous and don’t need avoiding.

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How Does Prolonged Exposure Therapy Work?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), prolonged exposure therapy is traditionally scheduled out over a period of 90 days with one session every week. These sessions can last anywhere from 60 to 120 minutes in length, so the patient can receive sufficient exposure to their triggers. 

Therapists will use two different methods of exposure to assist patients in confronting their trauma. These are:

  • Imaginal exposure: With guidance from the therapist, imaginal exposure has the patient describe the traumatic event in detail, as if they were currently immersed in the situation. The patient and therapist discuss and process the emotions raised by the exposure.  
  • In vivo exposure: In vivo exposure takes place outside of the therapist’s office. In this type of exposure, patients visit specific places or situations to challenge themselves to address their fears related to the trauma. 

What Does Prolonged Exposure Therapy Treat?



Prolonged exposure therapy is designed to treat PTSD. With PE therapy, patients can discuss and process the event that is the source of their trauma with the guidance of their therapist. The goal of PE therapy is to reduce trauma-related anxiety and depression so patients can re-engage with their lives.

What Does Prolonged Exposure Therapy Help With?

There are several signs, symptoms, or scenarios that prolonged exposure therapy can help with.

  • Trauma: The anxiety-provoking memories and feelings that come from the trauma can be reduced over time by gradual exposure.
  • Stress: Stress can decrease PE through the creation of self-efficacy, which shows that you are capable of working through the trauma. 
  • Daily fear & anxiety: By habituating yourself to your fear or trauma, you can lessen the effects that it has on your daily life.
  • Empowerment: Giving you the tools to confront trauma in your past can help you re-engage in the present and move toward the things you value in life. 


What Is It Like to Do Prolonged Exposure Therapy?

Prolonged exposure therapy begins with you and your therapist establishing what it is that you will address in your sessions together. You may also discuss methods for addressing this trauma or fear and establish a comfort level so that you remain engaged and advancing in your therapy.

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Common Techniques

Some common techniques used in this therapy are:

  • In vivo: In vivo therapy is a style of exposure wherein you will be exposed to a trigger in person. This can take place outside of your therapist’s office, if you are visiting a location, for instance.
  • Breathing techniques: Breathing techniques can be helpful for patients in regulating their body’s response to a trigger. By working on evening your breathing and focusing on that task, you can reduce your fear response.
  • Trauma recall: Also known as imaginal exposure, this style of exposure has the patient talk through their trauma to address the memories in the safety of the therapist’s office.
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Benefits of Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Benefits of prolonged exposure therapy include:

  • Emotional processing: By addressing your fear, you can become more logical about your fear trigger and develop comfort with the sensation of fear.
  • Stress control: By enabling you to face your trauma or fear through various methods, you reduce your overall stress levels.
  • Short-term results: Prolonged exposure gives patients results in the immediate future as opposed to years in the future.
  • Relief from PTSD symptoms: By addressing the source of your trauma, you can decrease the impact of PTSD on your daily life.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy at Behavioral Health of NY

1. Contact Our Office

In order to get started with your prolonged exposure therapy, you can give us a call or fill out our online form.

2. Speak with Dr. Levy 

Dr. Levy meets with each new client for the initial consultation. The consultation will determine if prolonged exposure therapy is a good fit for you along with any other relevant therapy methods.

3. Fill Out Forms

We ask that you fill out the necessary forms in order to make sure that we have all your updated health information and other pertinent documents to get you the best treatment possible.

4. Start Your Sessions 

BHNY will work with you to set up sessions at a convenient time for you so that your therapy will not disrupt your work week and ensure that you are able to attend all the necessary appointments.

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Feel Better with Prolonged Exposure Therapy

If you’re suffering from PTSD, trying PE Therapy might be able to help you in a number of ways.

Find BHNY PE Therapy Near You

Serving NYC, Westchester, and Long Island

Frequently Asked Questions

How Effective Is Prolonged Exposure Therapy?

According to the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, prolonged exposure therapy is an effective treatment for PTSD as it can reduce symptoms and reduce trauma related issues such as anger, guilt, and depression.

Who Developed Prolonged Exposure Therapy?

Dr. Edna Foa, Director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania, developed prolonged exposure therapy. Decades of studies have confirmed that PE therapy is an effective treatment of PTSD.