Opponent process: Exposure treatment for agoraphobia
The purpose of this exploratory study was to test the Opponent Process Theory in the context of exposure therapy for agoraphobia. Exposure therapies which putatively vary the amount of anxiety they evoke in subjects were examined for their ability to evoke an opponent process response of positive affect during and after treatment. Written mood scales were administered before and after each of 10 treatment sessions, and self-report measures of anxiety and elation were taken during each session at 10-minute intervals. It was expected on the basis of the opponent process theory that those subjects who experienced high levels of anxiety during treatment would experience an increase in positive feelings, while those who experienced little anxiety during treatment would have little or no gain in positive feelings. These predictions were not born out. Information regarding affect experienced during treatment and its relationship to treatment outcome was gained.