Use of Safety Behaviors in Exposure Therapy for Arachnophobia

  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Nevada, Reno
Updated on 19 September 2021
exposure therapy


This study examines the impact of safety behaviors (i.e., unnecessary protective actions) on outcomes of exposure therapy for spider phobia. Researchers will compare exposure therapy with (a) no safety behaviors, (b) safety behaviors faded toward the end of treatment, and (c) unfaded safety behaviors.


Some studies suggest that safety behaviors might undermine the efficacy of exposure therapy (Powers et al., 2010), whereas other studies suggest that there is no difference in exposure therapy outcomes whether or not safety behaviors are used (Deacon et al., 2010). Mixed findings could be explained by the parameters of safety behaviors use, such as whether they are used throughout the full course of therapy or faded toward the end of therapy. This will be the first study to directly compare the impact of faded and unfaded safety behaviors on exposure therapy outcomes. Specifically, researchers will randomize participants with a fear of spiders to receive exposure therapy (a) without safety behavior use, (b) with faded safety behavior use, and (c) with un-faded safety behavior use. Researchers will compare each condition's impact on fear reduction and on the tolerability/acceptability of treatment.

Condition Specific Phobia, Spider Phobia, Arachnophobia, Fear of Spiders
Treatment Exposure with faded safety behaviors, Exposure without safety behaviors, Exposure with unfaded safety behaviors
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04470882
SponsorUniversity of Nevada, Reno
Last Modified on19 September 2021

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