Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet

Utilize the Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet to aid clients in identifying what causes their anxiety. Click here to download a free copy of our template!

By Patricia Buenaventura on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is Exposure Therapy?

Exposure therapy helps clients identify and overcome what causes their anxiety or fear. This technique is used by mental health practitioners, specifically therapists and psychologists, to treat mental health conditions like phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

During therapy sessions, the mental health practitioner helps the client by exposing them to the stimulus that triggers their fear but in a safe environment. Exposure aims to change their pattern of being fearful or avoiding the cause and instead makes the client more comfortable or used to the situation, thing, etc.

There are four types of the many variations of exposure therapies:

  • Interoceptive exposure: The practitioner will introduce triggering physical sensations to a client to show how harmless it is.
  • Imaginal exposure: The practitioner will ask the client to imagine the thing or situation triggering their anxiety.
  • Virtual reality exposure: The practitioner will utilize virtual reality to place the client in a virtual environment of what they fear. This is usually used when the situation or thing cannot be easily found or done in reality.
  • In vivo exposure: The practitioner will have the client face the fear in reality.

The selection of the specific exposure therapy, the structure of the sessions, the frequency of attendance, and the overall duration of the treatment will be tailored to suit the client's individual condition and progress.

Printable Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet

Download this Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet to help clients work toward their goals.

How to use this Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet?

Do your patients have difficulty enumerating what triggers their fear or anxiety? Or perhaps, you need to identify which of their fears you must tackle first. Then, you can use our exposure hierarchy worksheet template. Follow these steps to get started:

Access and Download the Template

To access and download our printable exposure hierarchy worksheet template, you can either:

  • Clicking the “Use the Template” or “Download Template” button above
  • Searching for “Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet” in Carepatron’s template library on our website or app

Explain the Worksheet

While the worksheet is designed to be simple and clear, it's advisable to guide your client on how to complete it. Tell them they can take their time to reflect on the things or situations that trigger their anxiety and to rate those triggers based on the level of anxiety they evoke.

Complete the Worksheet

Give a copy of the worksheet to your client to fill out. You may provide them with a physical copy or a digital one they can answer on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. 

Discuss with Your Client

After they complete the worksheet, you may discuss the answers with your client. Though you won’t delve deep into the treatment process just yet, you may clarify any of the points they’ve written, especially their coping strategies if they’ve written any. 

Securely Store

Once the session ends, remember to securely store the completed worksheet at a secure physical location or a HIPAA-compliant EHR like Carepatron. 

Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet Example

We created an Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet PDF template example completed by a fictional client. We’ve provided this example so you can give your clients an idea of how to complete the worksheet or so you have an idea of what a client may write down on their worksheet. 

Feel free to download our example for educational purposes or use it as an offline reference by viewing our example below or clicking the “Download Example PDF” button above.

Download this Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet Example:

Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet Example

When would you use this Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet?

Mental health practitioners, more specifically psychologists and therapists, who use exposure therapy to treat any of the following disorders, may use the exposure hierarchy worksheet template:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

More specifically, they can use when they need:

  • To identify which of the client’s triggers should they prioritize
  • To determine which type of exposure they should employ to help their client
  • To know more about how the patient is currently coping with their triggers

What are the benefits of using this Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet?

Provides insight into the patient

Before a mental health practitioner can provide a solution, it’s essential that they first know the problem. By giving their patients a free exposure hierarchy worksheet template to fill out, they’ll learn more about their patients and have an on-hand reference of the triggers. 

Helps with treatment planning

The information on the exposure hierarchy worksheet can aid the referring practitioner in creating a personalized treatment and also help them narrow down which thing or situation to prioritize. 

Tracks Progress

Aside from using the free exposure hierarchy worksheet template during the first session to know more about the patient, the referring practitioner can also use it to track the patient's progress and determine the treatment plan's effectiveness. 

What is the purpose of the Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet?
What is the purpose of the Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet?

Commonly asked questions

What is the purpose of the Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet?

The Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet is meant to help patients identify what triggers their fear or anxiety so practitioners know what to help their patients with.

When is the Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet used?

Practitioners can use the exposure hierarchy worksheet template during the first exposure therapy session or whenever they need a guide or reference.

Who can use the Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet?

Patients who have yet to share their anxiety or fear triggers can use the exposure hierarchy worksheet if they’re more comfortable writing them down and giving them to practitioners.

Mental health practitioners who conduct exposure therapy sessions like psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists, will find the worksheet helpful.

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