10. In vivo exposures

“In vivo” means “in real life.” While you (or your client) is going through all the virtual exposures on this site, you should be doing real-life exposures. Take your “avoidance behavior” list and put it in order from easiest to most difficult to start doing. Begin with the easiest thing. If even going out at all is difficult, break it up into steps such as walking outside the front door, walking a few steps away, etc.

Some examples of in vivo exposures are:

  1. Going to a restaurant to eat
  2. Meeting a friend for coffee
  3. Taking a ride in a car
  4. Going to an amusement park or kids’ playground.
  5. Asking your loved ones to never reassure you again, no matter how much you ask or demand.
  6. Inviting people to your home
  7. Cooking chicken without overcooking it
  8. Eating yogurt when it’s a day or two past the expiry date.
  9. Washing hands only after using the bathroom.
  10. Allowing others to cook or clean without watching or interfering.

You may be able to think of more things. We had one client who couldn’t drink from certain mugs he thought were “contaminated” even though they’d been through the dishwasher. Another couldn’t touch certain items in the house that someone touched who’d been sick (a long time before).

You may have certain RITUALS or SUPERSTITIONS, which are almost always a part of emetophobia. If you have to touch wood every time the clock is ten past the hour, stop doing that. Anna used to feel like she had to turn light switches on and off a certain number of times before bed so she wouldn’t be sick in the night. This is only a superstition and nothing bad happens if you don’t do your ritual. If it does, it’s pure coincidence. Don’t let it halt your progress.

Next Step: Interoceptive Exposures