Treatment for Phobias

Phobias – put your mind at rest…

Everyone has fears to some extent. Some people are afraid of public speaking, for example, or feel uncomfortable in the company of people they don’t know. For others, the sight of blood scares them so much they become light-headed, and may even pass out. However, most people are able to control their fears and go about their normal activities. When fears and phobias take up excessive time and significantly interfere with daily life and relationships, it is time to seek help. Left untreated, phobias can lead to social isolation and depression.

When does a fear become a phobia?

Fears become a reason for concern when they are persistent and interfere with your daily functioning. When a fear reaches this level of intensity, it is often identified as a phobia.

A phobia is an irrational fear, one that gets in the way of daily living, such as fear of waiting in a queue at the supermarket, attending a social event, going on a bus or getting in a lift, or even going to the dentist. If you have a phobia, you avoid the source of your irrational fear wherever possible.

Rational fears, on the other hand, are those that evolved for the survival of the species and serve as self-protection mechanisms. When rational fear is activated, your body and mind become alert to the dangers in your immediate reality and respond accordingly. Fear of snakes, poisonous spiders, fire, and falling are examples of rational fears and are based on your instinctive self-defence responses.

What sort of treatment is available to help people overcome phobias?

Even though a person might realise that his or her fears are excessive and irrational, changing that fear is not a simple matter of understanding it. Most phobics require assistance from a qualified therapist to overcome their reactions to the object or situation they fear. In some extreme cases, therapy may also be combined with medications, to reduce the severity of reactions.

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT): This is generally viewed as the most effective form of therapy for treating phobias. CBT involves the use of such techniques as thought-stopping, gradual challenging of irrational behaviours, tracking and monitoring thoughts, feelings, and actions, etc.
  • Relaxation Exercises: A person with a phobia is very anxious and tense when thinking about the object of their fear. Learning to relax helps you encounter the feared object or situation in a calmer state. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation and positive affirmations are all included in the hypnosis part of the Elite therapy to help reduce symptoms.
  • Medications: If phobia symptoms are extremely problematic, or if a person needs some temporary assistance until behavioural changes take effect, certain anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed. At Elite we are not medically trained ourselves, but we always advise prospective clients to consult their GP first before starting on a course of therapy. We often find that clients have already sought help from their doctor and they are already taking some prescription drugs for their problem. It is often the case, however, that medication alone is not the most satisfactory course of treatment for phobias; a course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy sessions combined with relaxation techniques consistently provides the most effective treatment.

Click here to read an article featured in the Guardian entitled “That Sinking Feline”, which lists some famous “cat-phobics” and suggests that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy combined with Hypnotherapy is an extremely effective course of treatment for all sorts of phobias.