What is a Confederate?

A confederate is not a therapist; rather, a confederate is used as a therapeutic tool. For example, according to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, “in an experimental situation, [a confederate is] an aide of the experimenter who poses as a participant but whose behavior is rehearsed prior to the experiment.” Similarly, in exposure therapy, ATSA Therapists use confederates to pose in specific roles to enhance exposure tasks for the patient, which is particularly helpful in the treatment of social anxiety and selective mutism. Roles are rehearsed prior to the session and confederates follow the ATSA Therapist’s directives throughout the session.