Although exposure therapy (ET) is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, many clinicians report not utilizing it. The present study targeted common utilization barriers by evaluating an intensive ET training experience in a relatively inexperienced sample of pre-professionals. Thirty-two individuals at the undergraduate or college graduate level without formal clinical experience participated as camp counsellors in a 5day exposure-based therapeutic summer camp for youth with anxiety disorders and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Participants were trained in ET through a progressive cascading model and answered questionnaires before and after camp. Repeated measure MANOVA revealed significantly increased feelings of self-efficacy conducting exposures, and significantly decreased feelings of disgust sensitivity and contamination-related disgust from pre-camp to post-camp. A subset of individuals providing data 1 month after the camp maintained a significant gain in ET self-efficacy. Regression analyses revealed that contamination-related disgust, but not disgust sensitivity, significantly predicted post-camp ET self-efficacy. These findings suggest that individuals early into their post-secondary education can learn ET, and the progressive cascading model holds promise in its utility across experience levels and warrants further investigation. Disgust may also play a role in feelings of competency conducting ET. Implications on dissemination and implementation efforts are also discussed.
Key learning aims
(1) How can training of CBT techniques such as exposure occur prior to graduate education?
(2) Can self-efficacy in conducting exposures meaningfully increase in an experiential training of pre-professionals?
(3) How does an individual’s tolerance of disgust impact feelings of competence conducting exposures?