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Digital Recording

Taming the Amygdala

Simplifying Exposure Therapy to Transform Fear into Courage

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Catherine Pittman, PhD, HSPP |  Rachel Hiraldo, LPCC
3 Hours 23 Minutes
Audio and Video
Mar 24, 2024
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Digital Recording
Never expires.


Exposure therapy is proven to be highly effective for treating anxiety, fear, and panic, but it’s often perceived as difficult for clients, and few therapists use this essential technique in their practice. However, neuroscience has shown that simple exposure procedures change the brain’s fear circuitry in powerful ways that traditional therapy does not. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to motivate clients to embrace the challenging exposure process, design effective exposure experiences that change neural circuitry, and uncover and work with hidden fears. You’ll also learn how to: 

  • Give clients easy-to-understand explanations of how the amygdala functions during exposure and how they can actually control these functions 
  • Identify and change clients’ beliefs about fear, anxiety, and panic that often undermine exposure work 
  • Pinpoint and address different triggers during exposure to develop a plan for monitoring anxiety   
  • Teach clients to manage anxiety and address safety signals 


Planning Committee Disclosure - No relevant relationships

All members of the PESI, Inc. planning committee have provided disclosures of financial relationships with ineligible organizations and any relevant non-financial relationships prior to planning content for this activity. None of the committee members had relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies or other potentially biasing relationships to disclose to learners.  For speaker disclosures, please see the faculty biography.


This online program is worth 3.5 hours CPD.



Rachel Hiraldo, LPCC's Profile

Rachel Hiraldo, LPCC Related seminars and products

Rachel Hiraldo, LPCC, is the owner of Vivify Counseling and Wellness, based in the Cincinnati area, primarily treating adults with anxiety, depression, and trauma. She’s a certified clinical anxiety treatment professional specializing in working with anxiety disorders.


Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Rachel Hiraldo maintains a private practice. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.

Non-financial: Rachel Hiraldo has no relevant non-financial relationships.

Additional Info

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


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  1. Describe the role of the amygdala in anxiety in clear, accessible language. 
  2. Identify the most important triggers to address in exposure and develop steps in a hierarchy. 
  3. Assess and communicate about client’s anxiety level using SUDS language, and help client manage anxiety. 
  4. Articulate how to increase exposure effectiveness. 


  • The relationship between anxiety and the brain: Simple language for teaching a complex topic to clients  
  • What you need to know about the amygdala to be able to work with it successfully in treatment 
  • The role of the amygdala in the most common presenting concerns 
  • How the amygdala learns from our experiences  
  • The most common goal blockers in treatment 
  • How to teach the amygdala to respond differently to triggers 
  • Identify and choose steps in exposure hierarchy 
  • What is a SUDS rating and how does it facilitate success in exposure practice  
  • How to teach your clients to rate their SUDS  
  • Exactly what therapists need to do (and what clients shouldn’t do) to successfully work with SUDS during exposure  
  • How to move through hierarchy steps using SUDS level 
  • Appropriate expectations about SUDS level for both therapist and client 
  • Adaptive responses to anxiety and how to teach your clients to develop them 
  • What you can do to increase exposure effectiveness 
  • Managing common pitfalls in exposure: safety signals, unhelpful behaviours and more 
  • Barriers to success, risks and limitations to the research 

Target Audience

  • Psychologists
  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Counsellors
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Addiction Counsellors
  • Social Workers


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