Which therapy is used for treating phobia?

Asked by Anonymous

When treating phobias, therapists typically use 2 types of methods (sometimes at the same time): Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy. With both of these approaches, the point is to expose the client to their phobia/fear with the hope of cultivating healing and developing coping skills.

Exposure therapy involves a therapist gradually exposing a client to the thing that is at the source of their phobia. For example, if a client has a phobia of spiders, then a therapist who specializes in exposure therapy might start by simply engaging in a conversation with the client about spiders. Then, the therapist might have the client look at pictures of spiders in therapy. Then, look at pictures of spiders at home. The therapist might even bring a spider into a session that is contained within a cage or instruct the client to visit a zoo and spend time near an enclosure. The point is to keep exposing the client to their fear/phobia over and over again as a means of “desensitizing” them to their fear.

A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach to phobias also involves the therapist exposing their client to the source of their phobia. However, in this method, the therapist will also teach the client different skills that will help them cope with their feelings of fear rather than relying on the effects of desensitization. Some of these skills include teaching the client how to process their feelings and emotions associated with their phobia rather than allowing their thoughts and feelings to “take over” and control their lives.

In both of these therapy methods/approaches, the therapist will also teach the client relaxation techniques that can help to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that they might experience during times of exposure. The therapist might aim to treat some of the physiological responses that one experiences such as rapid heart rate and trouble breathing by educating the client on the use of breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.

As a general rule of thumb, it is always a good idea for people to be mindful when choosing a therapist to treat their mental health issues. When looking for a therapist to treat a phobia, it is important to select one that states that they either have experience working with people with phobias or even specialize in the treatment of phobias.

(Masters, of, Social, Work)