A therapeutic technique for treating phobias in which the patient is exposed to painful memories or frightening stimuli until he or she ceases to be anxious.
Example: An arachnophobic patient is locked in a room full of spiders after discussing the treatment with her therapist and consenting to it. She is initially terrified, but eventually relaxes when she realizes that nothing bad is going to happen to her.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Jan 2009