2 min read

Learning to Love Roller Coasters

Learning to Love Roller Coasters

Recently I relearned about inhibitory learning.  I love knowledge that challenges me to look at things in an alternative way. It is probably due to my Anthropology brain/degree. I’d compare it to learning another perspective of viewing a problem.  

Inhibitory Learning

Inhibitory learning is a model used to understand Exposure Response Prevention (ERP), which is used to treat OCD. ERP uses a behavioral perspective of gradual exposure to obsessions and fears while abstaining from the compulsions to desensitize said fear(s) and stop engagement in your OCD loop. 

Inhibitory learning addresses learning a new lesson about our fears/obsessions.  This learning creates new pairings with our anxiety.  A big part of inhibitory learning is learning to tolerate anxiety without doing compulsions and learning that our worst fear does not happen or that we can tolerate the terror of the uncertainty of our obsessions.

Anxiety Pairing

We are learning to love riding rollercoasters and watching scary movies.  Biologically we should hate these experiences but we don't.  We watch them every week (at least I do), or we go on trips to ride the best scariest roller coaster (which I do not). We pair our fear with something exciting or fun.

In inhibitory learning, we are learning through different exposures not the same exposure repetitively. Overall, learning is what is most important because OCD can be like wack-a-mole.  You know the arcade game where you pound one mole down and then another one pops up. Often once you get one exposure facilitated, (finally cease to fear it), another one starts up. This is very common in OCD and anxiety disorders, so inhibitory learning could produce a tolerance for all anxiety triggers.

Anxiety / OCD Treatment = Inhibitory Learning

So learning to address fear/obsessions/anxiety through building tolerance can help you have a new experience of fear in ALL areas of your life. 

EMDR, ERP, DBT = Learning

I find this term mind-blowing because it IS what I facilitate and have been facilitating in my office through EMDR, ERP, and DBT therapeutic techniques, I just hadn’t labeled my particular methodology so that it could be used more consciously.

I am always working myself out of a job. By this I mean that I am building resilience in my clients which means eventually they will not need to see me anymore. I want my clients to truly know that they can manage their internal/external storms and to be able to identify what they need when disruptions occur, and facilitate them in their lives through LEARNING that begins in my office and continues into their lives.  

The mind is a tricky place. We think because things occur inside of us that we should be able to work them out all by ourselves, but often times we cannot.  

Know that:

  1. Some things are biological so we cannot change them.

    OCD is one of those biological diagnosis.  They say that there is more grey matter in the brain of an OCD client.

  2. Changing our symptoms is NOT the answer.

    We must learn to accept what is occurring and “tolerate these thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations.” This is how learning begins. I know many of you will say "this woman is crazy, I cannot do such a thing," but science can be pretty convincing and correct.  

  3. Seeing a therapist who SPECIALIZES in what you are suffering from is exactly what you need to pursue.

    Experts in these conditions assist you in facilitating changes that we cannot facilitate on our own. It is similar to having lung issues. You would not expect to be capable of healing yourself on your own. You would see a specialist and follow their recommendations.  

  4. Therapy is a place of learning.

    A therapist’s office is where this type of learning begins. Let's begin the learning process together.

KD Holmes LPC

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