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date: 14 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

The essential role of exposure in facilitating fear reduction during cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the anxiety disorders is well established. Yet, the precise mechanisms underlying its efficacy have been debated for decades. How and why does fear reduction occur? This question, which is the central focus of the present chapter, is examined in depth via a thorough review of the empirical literature. Clinical applications and implications are discussed in the context of up-to-date experimental research within the broad field of psychological science. Pressing, unanswered research questions are raised, and future research directions are suggested.

Keywords: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), emotional processing, exposure, fear extinction, neurobiology, safety learning

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