Exposure Therapy: When is it too much?

How does one know the difference between when they are not trying hard enough, aka giving up when they should push through or pesevere, or when it's better one should pull back or stop? (Except for breaking down of course).

Also, what if there isn't much support, to continue it or to deal with it after?

Lots of times I feel like I'm chickening out, or making excuses, yet as bad as I feel I feel relieved to avoid, or it feels self-confirmatory. Other times I'm proud I did it, or I feel better for it. Sometimes I think I should abandon all of it. Sometimes I just think I should go back to ignoring I even need it, or wonder if I am capable, or it even matters at this point? Sometimes I feel hopeful and *almost* normal. Sometimes I want to go back to no reminders of any of it, start over.

Thank you very much for any advice or experiences.
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Yes, thanks. And pushing, or backing out, is sometimes best. And go by what you know or sense or think or feedback. There are some aspects of my history I will face exposure to, some are not worth it because it's only helpful if it doesn't end the same as that would be reinforcing.

Kind of funny to make decisions that weigh only on myself. In one way it feels freeing, because it gives me a choice what to avoid, and in another way it doesn't really matter because the more I avoid the more it feels like the only right choice to make. And maybe that's true, Idk. I do know I'm too tired to take any chances.


My T sometimes asks if I want to stop, as she has recognised signs now. That helps, having someone sort of give me permission to stop.
Because it's so hard to know sometimes.
I think there are particular signs like anxiety building up so bad, not being able to keep the chain of the conversation in my head -like I instantly forget what she said or I said and it's very confusing, or my fidgeting goes through the roof and my shoulders are so tense, my whole body tense. Those are signs carrying on might not be good, or at least to talk about those signs and see if they can reduce any before carrying on.
@Movingforward10 I almost always feel like that.. 🤣

I appreciate everyone's response. I actually asked to lock or remove the thread (it wasn't possible of course, forgot they don't delete them), simply because it's kind of moot and unnecessary, because I realize why I feel unsafe and have the avoidance to begin with (".. if you don't know who the fool is in the room, you're it". 😊 ). They recommended ignoring the thread but I can just do that anyway with my eyes and thoughts. Mostly it really doesn't matter though. Probably something I'll process on my own, or simply live and learn. The lack of safety in the environment is more triggering for me than the lack of sentiment, which is irrelevant to me except for the lack of honesty (which for me is Hugely unsafe and triggering). That all considered I don't see how it could be healing, at all. It's just marketed that way. Or perhaps I just believed it, was more the truth.

But I appreciate everyone's input and I wish you all much progress! 🤗


When I start dissassociating my T had to call me several times to get me to come back into the room. Now,he knows not tio be that pushy. He is more aware. Which is a good thing to be if your my therapist


Also, what if there isn't much support, to continue it or to deal with it after?
I only had support with exposure therapy twice-ish. The very first time I did it (Fast&Dirty) to eliminate a trigger… and 15 years later; essentially doing trial prep / running over every possible question until I could answer clearly, concisely, on point, and without losing my mind (at least for the few hours it took to testify to the panel).

The first time with friends, who’d gone through the same thing themselves (we all did, sooner or later, so there were very established ways we helped each other out, when one of us got squirrelly), took 3-4 days. The second time with a T&Lawyer who kept drilling me, drilling me, drilling me… took a couple months in 2-4 hour chunk a couple/few time a week. (It wasn’t fast&dirty, but it nosed the line.) There wasn’t any backup covering my life, to make sure the business of living was sorted, so it -my life- got totally f*cked… but seeing as I’d be in prison for the rest of my life if I didn’t nail this panel? Trading a couple years my-life-is-f*cked to HAVE my freedom/good name in return? Was a pretty fair trade, all things considered.

The other several thousand times were all on my own, in my own time, at my own discretion.

No support of any kind needed on my own… as the fundamental driving principle of the slow/sane version of Exposure Therapy is boooooooredom. 😎 Normal. Fine. Boring. Eh. Whatever. The tiniest flicker of a reaction, & backing off. And staying backed off. Until? I happen to feel like flickering back, again. And backing off. Over and over, again. Flirting around the edges. Never getting a stronger response than “huh, that’s weird”, or a shiver, prickling of sweat, or heart rate moving up a few beats a minute.


If the environment doesn’t feel right @Rosebud, makes sense you would Nope yourself out of there.
Too duplicitous an environment
Had to look that word up. If people are being deceitful that sounds like a good reason to leave.
it's only helpful if it doesn't end the same
I don’t know how it could, seeing as it’s not in the past and there are different people now, but I see your point.
the fundamental driving principle of the slow/sane version of Exposure Therapy is boooooooredom.
Never thought of it that way but makes a lot of sense and resonates with me. How many times have I gone to session and wanted her to drill it out of me, or force myself to talk about “that one thing” only to have T say maybe I’m not ready. Or ask myself, “How many times at I going to face this?”
@Friday I thank you because that's tremendously helpful. I have never also heard of this:

.. the fundamental driving principle of the slow/sane version of Exposure Therapy is boooooooredom.
or maybe it's better to say, I have never experienced this?? Nor do I very rarely even experience 'boredom' at any time in my life. I actually have 'too much' of a reaction with exposure, but just as equally I cognitively know in retrospect it shouldn't be such a big physical reaction (eg to run, etc). Do you know what I'm doing wrong so that I could fix it? I have had 2 I can think of experiences trying to over-write a memory/ make a different positive association that worked. (Didn't make it positive long term as much though as removed the automatic, clenched-up negative). I am also wondering if my baseline of energy is just higher, maybe a lower tipping point? Or just I'm doing it wrong? 🙄😑 If I break things in to any smaller steps I will be using a walker before I see progress. 👵

PS, I appreciate the sharing of what you went through, as have had 2 or 3 times in my life I had similar. Death would have been easier to face, tbh, so I might have an inkling of what it took of you, and what it took out of you, and why it was even more important (your son). Thank you very much.

@OliveJewel actually it doesn't matter. Where I have to get along (eg work) the clients and families almost without any exception are very great, and say I'm ok too (actually, say 'love' me, etc), and there it's dozens. Who knows what anyone is going through, and more importantly what do I care? What does work for me is being one step off of invisible. If I'm still unwelcome anywhere under that condition there's little else I can do without morphing into wallpaper. My life is frankly way too complicated and way too busy and way too many demands to allow myself a downslide in to hyperfocusing on it (and even that shows I'm a mess. Not to mention in my FOO the response would have been, 'Wah wah wah baby!' or 'sympathy is between sh*t and syphlis in the dictionary' or 'get over it (or yourself)', and frankly therefore it also feels shameful- and useless- to whine) . Plus I have a lousy memory anyway. And tbh, where I am now and in my life it really doesn't make any difference much who hates me more, as I'm up to my axles and little left for anyone to take from my self esteem. Plus their opinion of me is not my business. I don't want to be hated, but I also can only be responsible for what I do or choose, and it's my problem if I earned it. Also, it's still important to be grateful (for me). But thank you for your thoughts.

What I am not familiar with is asking anyone to push me. I push myself or most things are a Mountain for me already. I am sick to death of living like this. I refuse to allow myself to live like this any longer, and I will do it on my own or bust. The work is my problem at any rate, as is my present or past.
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