Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Phobias – What is it and Can it Help?

Phobia Exhibition @ MoytoyWhat is CBT?

CBT stands for cognitive behavioural therapy, which is an effective treatment for behavioural and emotional problems. It helps patients to identify and understand their fear, and then from this, learn to overcome their fear response.

How are Phobias formed?

Many phobias are believed to be a result of a process called classical conditioning.

For example: If every time a person sees a dog it either bites or barks loudly at that person, the person begins to feel anxious or scared. The dog becomes the object of the person’s fear, and the biting or barking is the cause of this fear. Then upon seeing a dog again, which results in the same negative experience, the person begins to form a phobia. This means that in the future, just seeing a dog that is not vicious in any way will still make the person feel emotions of fear. The development of this fear is called acquisition.

Inheriting Phobias

Fears are not just developed from exposure to an object. It can often be inherited from parents who cause their offspring to become wary of certain things, creating a phobia. Indeed it is believed that mothers who are overtly fearful are more likely to pass on high fear levels to their children. Further reading on the inheritance of fears can be found here.

How can CBT help?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapies are designed to focus on specific behaviours or symptoms, and the cause of them. This means the core cause of the fear is identified and targeted within the treatment, in order to change it, which then reduces or alters the resulting behaviours and symptoms.

With specific phobias, treatment often entails the learning of the nature of the fear; cognitive work that helps to introduce different thoughts and alter previous misconceptions of the feared object or situation; and systematic imaginal and in vivo exposure to the feared object or situation.

Over a period of time, this can lead to the patient associating the previously negatively perceived object, within a more positive light. In fact many CBTs lead to significant symptom reduction, in as little as 10-20 sessions.

Harley Therapy can help with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy treatment for phobias. Call 0845 474 1724 for more information or to book an appointment.

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