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First a fear-hierarchy is created: the patient is asked a series of questions to determine the level of discomfort the fear causes in various conditions. Can the patient talk about the object of his/her fear, can the patient tolerate a picture of it or watch a movie which has the object of his/hear fear, can he/she be in the same room with the object of his/her fear, and/or can he/she be in physical contact with it?
Once these questions have been ordered beginning with least discomfort to most discomfort, the patient is taught a relaxation exercise. Such an exercise might be tensing all the muscles in his/her body then relaxing them and saying "relax", and then repeating this process until the patient is calm.
Next, the patient is exposed to the object of his/her fear in a condition with which he/she is most comfortable - such as merely talking about the object of his/her fear. Then, while in such an environment, the patient performs the relaxation exercise until she or he is comfortable at that level.
After that, the patient moves up the hierarchy to the next condition, such as a picture or movie of the object of fear, and then to the next level in the hierarchy and so on until the patient is able to cope with the fear directly.
Although it may take several sessions to achieve a resolution, the technique is regarded as successful.