Phobia therapy

Do you have a phobia which is affecting your life and wish it could be different?

Whilst some people learn to manage their phobias well, others are severely affected in their quality of life and daily functioning. A phobia is generally characterised by strong and intense levels of anxiety and fear. For some, the anxiety associated with a phobia can serve to maintain patterns of avoidance in life. For example, a person with a phobia of driving might avoid going anywhere that is not accessible by other means (e.g. by bus, train etc). ‘Treatment’ for a phobia might involve talking to a professional (talking therapy) but some people with a phobia feel extremely ambivalent about doing this. In this instance it might be useful to read the following:

1. Realise your ambivalence
Acknowledge that you are ambivalent or unsure. This could be the first step towards addressing it.

2. Explore fears with a friend
Talk to a friend or somebody you can trust with your feelings, perhaps someone who already knows you and is aware of your phobia. Verbalising your thoughts and concerns to someone you trust may help you to detach concerns from your real and very understandable anxiety.

3. Make a list
Compose a list of the possible advantages and disadvantages (short and long-term) of addressing your phobia. How would your life change if the treatment were successful? What would be beneficial for you? How do you see the possible disadvantages of engaging in treatment?

4. Get informed
One of the best ways to reduce distress about engaging in treatment is to be informed about what treatments are actually available and what they will involve. Once you are fully informed you can make a decision armed with the facts. If you decide to then embark on some treatment, it may help to know what you can expect.

5. See treatment as an alternative perspective
Different perspectives exist where we look for them. Try to consider seeking help as an alternative perspective to the one you have held (i.e. about the object of your phobia). This does not mean you have been wrong, but exploring a new perspective may just bring relief.

If you have a phobia of something which is making you feel distressed, or it is affecting your life then it could be the time to try talking therapy. You can contact a psychologist or counsellor from the British CBT and Counselling Service and they will discuss with you whether treatment would be useful.

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