PE is founded on Foa and Kozak's (1986) theory of emotional processing that explains the pathological underpinnings of anxiety disorders and their treatment by exposure therapy. At its core, the emotional processing theory of exposure therapy rests on two basic propositions: (1) anxiety disorders reflect the existence of pathological fear structures in memory, which are activated when information represented in the structures is encountered; and (2) successful treatment modifies the pathological elements of the fear structure, such that information that used to evoke anxiety symptoms no longer does so. The process of modifying the pathological elements of the fear structure is called emotional processing. Foa and Kozak further proposed that for therapy to successfully modify the fear structure, the fear structure must be activated and corrective information must be incorporated in to it.
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