It's normal to be afraid of or strongly dislike certain things, such as extreme sports or dangerous spiders. But if you have a particular fear you fixate on and arrange your life around, or feel panicked and anxious at the thought of facing? Then you might have a phobia. The good news is that therapy helps.
What is a phobia?
A phobia is actually a form of anxiety disorder. It means we have an overwhelming fear of a particular thing, whether that is an object, animal, experience, or environment. Popular phobias include fear of heights, fear of needles, and fear of open spaces (agoraphobia).
When you are phobic towards one of these things, you won't just just dislike them, you will have physical symptoms of anxiety when faced with them, or even when just thinking about them. And you'll actively seek to avoid the object of your phobia, even if that limits you.
Treatment for phobias
Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most popular approach for treating phobias. A structured short-term psychotherapy, it helps you recognise and balance your unhelpful thinking before it leads to anxiety or unhelpful behaviours. If you'd like to integrate mindfulness, there is also mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).
Your CBT therapist might also use a tool known as 'exposure therapy' , also referred to as 'exposure and response prevention" (ERP). This means you slowly learn to increase your window of tolerance for what you feel, starting wiht something as simple as learning to tolerate looking at a picture of it. It's a safe and gentle process, where you are guided step by small step.
Integrative therapy is another option. An integrative therapist is trained in several therapeutic approaches so can create an approach that best suits you. Here at Harley TherapyTM most of our integrative therapists have trained in CBT so that can still be part of your therapy journey.
Benefits of counselling for phobias
- recognise and change the unhelpful thinking driving your phobia
- get to to root of how your phobia formed and heal old traumas
- lower or resolve your emotional and physical response to your phobia
- learn practical tools to ease anxiety and lower tension in all areas of life
- understand yourself and how you function and develop self-compassion.
Therapy for phobias at Harley Therapy™, London
We take the stress out of choosing a therapist by only offering expert psychotherapists and counselling psychologists trained at top institutions and with at least ten years of experience. Our team is passionate about helping you to manage your phobias and take back control of your life.
Phobia therapy is available at all three central London locations. As well as our main clinic on Harley Street in W1, we also have rooms at London Bridge (SE1) and accessible therapy rooms near Liverpool Street (EC2).
If you’re unable, or prefer not to come for therapy in person, online therapy is another way to seek support from an accredited therapist with Harley Therapy. All therapists offer online therapy sessions using platforms such as Skype, Facetime, Zoom, etc. Therapy sessions last 50 minutes and our fee structure is very simple.
Call us to discuss your options or use our online booking form to make a first appointment.
What are common symptoms of phobias?
Phobias create the same symptoms as other anxiety disorders, which include many physical ones.
Emotional and mental symptoms of phobias can include:
- negative and extreme thinking
- feelings of fear and panic
- fear of dying or passing out
- dissociation (feeling like you've left your body)
- foggy thinking.
Physical symptoms of phobias can include:
- dizziness or feeling faint
- a racing heart and shortness of breath
- sweatiness and muscle tension
- hot or cold flushes
- shaking, trembling, feeling very weak
- stomach upset and nausea
- the freeze response (not able to move or think).
Why do people develop phobias?
Having a phobia is by no means your fault. Phobias tend to develop from difficult experiences, often in childhood. In an effort to 'protect' us from other such experiences our brain creates a strong fear response.
Or sometimes a phobia is the result of social learning. An adult around us as a child had a strong fear of something that limited their life and saw them using avoidance behaviours, and we learned their fearful thinking and behavioural patterns.Therapy helps you finally question those thoughts and actions, and learn to recognise your power as an adult to take care of yourself and not need to be fearful.
ASK US A QUESTION
ARE YOU A JOURNALIST WRITING ABOUT THIS TOPIC?
If you are a journalist writing about this subject, do get in touch - we may be able to comment or provide a pull quote from a professional therapist.
Further reading on help for fears and phobias
- Fears and phobias - What's the difference, and is this you?
- Exposure therapy for anxiety - does it work?
- Agoraphobia and social anxiety - Are they connected?
- Cognitive behavioural therapy for phobias - what is it and can it help?
- Often afraid? When a feeling of fear is a red flag
- Irrational fears: is there nothing to fear but fear itself?
- The NHS self-help guide for dealing with phobias
- ‘The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook’ . Edmund Bourne, 2011.
- ‘Coping with Fears and Phobias: A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding & Facing Your Anxieties’. Warren Mansell, 2007.
Types of phobias therapy can help:
- achluophobia (darkness)
- acrophobia (heights)
- agoraphobia (open spaces or no escape)
- arachnophobia (spiders)
- astraphobia (thunder and lightning)
- claustrophobia (small spaces)
- cynophobia ( dogs)
- social phobia (social environments)
- emetophobia (vomiting)
- megalophobia (large objects)
- mysophobia (germs or dirt)
- ophidiophobia (snakes)
- pteromerhanophobia (flying)
- thalassophobia (large bodies of water)
- trypanophobia (injections, needles)
- trypophobia (clusters of holes)
- any other fear or phobia.