Common Phobias, and the Types of Therapy that Can Help. From an Anxiety Therapist in Castle Rock, CO
It is estimated that 12.5 percent of the population in the United States has a phobia. A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. From social situations to snakes to flying phobias can be incredibly disruptive to our lives. Thankfully, therapy can help diminish these phobias into a more manageable fear or anxiety while allowing us to pursue the lives we want to live. You will be happy to know that there are multiple therapies that are effective for the most common phobias, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), Narrative Therapy, and Group Therapy. While exposure therapy is effective for phobias, it’s not usually the first choice for most therapists, which is good, because let’s face it, your therapist probably doesn’t want to bring a snake into session any more than you do!
With that reassurance, let’s go over some of the most common phobias and how therapy can help.
Social phobias (social anxiety disorder) – Many activities involve some form of social interaction, and people with this phobia often find their lives becoming smaller in order to avoid social situations. The good news is that therapists do specialize in social anxiety. Therapy can help you increase positive social engagement through the therapy sessions themselves, give you a safe place to practice and process social interactions, and understand more of the underlying issues causing the phobia.
Fear of failure – Fear of failure could be attributed to perfectionism, trauma, or even burnout. Many therapists can help you increase a practice of self-compassion, and help you address other factors such as trauma or burnout that could help reduce and shift this fear.
Health anxiety – Health anxiety is very common and can be exhausting. Therapy can often help you distinguish realistic concerns from thoughts that could be more distorted by anxiety, and help you practice coping skills and other techniques to address the distorted thoughts. Know that you’re not alone, especially since the pandemic!
Claustrophobia, fear of heights, and fear of flying – While many approaches work for phobias, these specific phobias are best treated with exposure related approaches, often taught by therapists who also treat OCD or who specialize in phobias. If you get panic attacks in these situations, a therapist who specializes in anxiety can help you understand your body during a panic attack and help you learn new skills to reduce their frequency and intensity.
If a phobia is restricting your life, even if it’s not on this list, finding a therapist who specializes in treating phobias can help you decrease the severity of the fear and expand your life. Each approach to treating phobias involves getting more in touch with how your body and brain are reacting to the object or situation triggering the fear response. Exercises such as mindfulness (discussed in last week’s blog post), yoga, exercise, and grounding techniques are helpful for getting in touch with how you are feeling.
Because phobias hijack our normal responses, it is helpful to have a therapist to guide us through an alternative response. Like a fire drill, practicing these alternative responses can help keep the panic at bay when encountering a phobia.
I hope this has helped you learn more about phobias and ways to address the negative effects a phobia can have on your life. And if you’d love to know more about phobias and the associated treatments, our team of therapists at Authentic Connections Counseling Center in Castle Rock, Colorado is here to support you. You can book a session by calling 720-370-3010 x100 or emailing us at [email protected].