According to Healthline a ‘’phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. If you have a phobia, you may experience a deep sense of dread or panic when you encounter the source of your fear. The fear can be of a certain person, place, or object.’’ Some common phobias include a fear of spiders, heights, snakes, and crowded places. Knowing a friend or family to have a phobia or having a phobia yourself is rather common.
Cognitive behavioral therapy treatment for phobias involves dissociation and the breaking off with the response usually anxiety and fear that stems from the situation, place or thing. The therapy is effective as it helps the client to identify the negative and irrational thoughts and feelings and instead, helps to change and adapt new ways of thinking and response to the distressing situations.
The CBT therapist guides clients to form and create thought patterns that are doable and realistic to their capabilities and strength. Once this is achieved, the therapy helps clients in diminishing the anxiety response by providing methods to improve behavior which can help them face their fears without having anxiety and stress.
Cognitive Behavioral Treatment For Phobias
- Cognitive Restructuring
People with phobias often have destructive thoughts in connection to their phobia. People who have phobias misjudge their ability to cope with fear in difficult situations as they feel that they can handle being in that stressful situation again.
Cognitive restructuring helps to identify these sorts of catastrophic and negative thought patterns, and instead help them to think more realistic and rational thoughts. This treatment aims to help people with phobias to have a decrease in their anxiety and in their avoidance concerning their phobia.
- Mindfulness Training
Mindfulness Training helps the client to bring its awareness back to the present. People sometimes are distracted by their thoughts and irrational feelings from their phobia that when they come in contact with what they fear, they have difficulty understanding that their fear is bringing them no harm or threat at all.
This treatment helps them understand that when they are caught up by their thoughts that they can disregard being in the present environment.
- Systematic Exposure therapy
Systematic exposure therapy is a technique used by therapists in cognitive behavior therapy to treat anxiety disorders caused by phobias. Exposure therapy involves exposing the client to the anxiety source which is what or who they fear without the intention to cause any danger or real harm. The systematic exposure therapy helps individuals to overcome their anxiety or distress caused by their anxiety from the phobia.
This therapy helps those who need help to manage their irrational thoughts brought about by their extreme fears. It helps the client to confront their fears gradually and systematically and to any objects or people who bring that fear in a structured and controlled environment and setting.
Systematic exposure therapy’s aim is to help the client by designing and creating an environment where the client is then exposed to their phobia gradually. A person can have their anxiety reduced, decrease their intense avoidance of that fear and help them live a better quality of life without having to worry about effects brought from having phobias.
Types of Exposure Therapy
- Imaginal Exposure
In this type of exposure therapy, a client in the therapy is asked to mentally confront the fear or situation by picturing it in one’s mind. For example, a person with acrophobia, a fear of heights, will be asked to imagine themselves on top of a building or riding a plane.
- In Vivo Exposure
When the In vivo exposure method is used, the client will be exposed to real-life objects and in a situational environment. For example, a person with a fear of spiders, or aquaphobia might be shown a spider and ask to touch it.
- Virtual Reality Exposure:
Virtual Reality Exposure is a combination of both imaginal and in vivo exposure where a person is introduced to situations that look real-life but are actually made up. For example, a person who has a phobia of water or hydrophobia will be put in a virtual simulation of being in water or swimming in a pool.