Graded Exposure to Risk


A post from our Community Correspondent Maureen Gilmour

I was thinking about the theme of risk on the way home from our Mind Waves Community Correspondent meeting.

We talked about the subject during our meeting and I was surprised that my initial thought was of risk assessment that I did as a part of my work as a  Community Psychiatric Nurse. Assessing a person’s risk of harm to themselves and others as this was a big part of my job.

As the discussion went on in the group I thought more of the risks we take each day from getting out of bed in the morning until going back to bed at the end of the day. Avoidance of stressful, anxiety provoking and uncomfortable scenarios is much easier than taking the risk of facing up to our fears.

Fortunately the outcome, more often than not, is well worth the risk and can be very satisfying and rewarding. I have used graded exposure in the past to “test out” my fears and minimise the risk of failure, embarrassment and ultimate panic. The basic idea is to gradually expose yourself to the things you’re scared of in a way that allows you to control your fear at each step.

It takes great strength to face your fears, take the risks and put yourself back out into the “big bad world”, but once out there it is well worth the risk as I found out today by attending and participating in the meeting.

The fear of being judged and stigmatised is great and does need to change. This is improving but still needs a lot of public education about mental health before we will see further improvement.

We can do our part by taking the risk and enjoying the rewards but there will always be that fear. It makes a big difference to feel supported through Mind Waves.

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One Response to Graded Exposure to Risk

  1. Pete October 16, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

    Great post Maureen! I love the concept of graded exposure, it is something I’ll definitely try.

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