Phobias: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Phobias

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Phobias


Phobias – the basics

Phobias, such as agoraphobia and social phobia, are fears of specific objects or of situations, events, or activities that lead phobia sufferers to avoid them or engage in them with trepidation. The elements of a phobia are anxious thoughts and avoidant behaviors. In order to be considered an anxiety disorder, a phobia must interfere with the person’s ability to function. Discover how you can get cognitive-behavioral therapy for phobias.

General situational phobias, such as agoraphobia, claustrophobia, and acrophobia, involve anxious feelings triggered in situations with physical or environmental elements in common, like heights and wide open or confined spaces. People who suffer from agoraphobia, the most widespread of the general situational phobias. feel unnerving, “pre-panic-attack” sensations and anxieties when they perceive themselves to be cut off from exits, sources of safety, or when alone. Claustrophobics react similarly in situations that appear physically confining or crowded, such as elevators, stairwells, cramped aisles, or crowded cafes, as do acrophobics when they feel trapped on high, apparently precarious places like bridges or rooftops.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for phobias can help people with Social Anxiety Disorder which are very sensitive to situations where they are expected to interact or perform, fearing that they will be ridiculed or humiliated. Although social anxiety disorder is very treatable, it often begins with childhood shyness but, unless treated, may continue through adulthood.  The uneasiness felt by  people who are socially anxious during episodes of anxiety is often much complicated when they caught up in “sticky thinking” – hard-to-control bursts or consuming clouds of repetitive negative thinking.

Specific Phobias

Specific Phobias are anxious reactions to specific objects like snakes or bugs and singular situations like thunderstorms and Friday the 13th. Specific phobias are often based on universal human fears that linger after childhood. Many specific phobias are treatable without medication through behavior therapy and often respond pretty quickly to focused therapy.

Helpful Resources

Anxiety and Depression Disorders Association of America (ADAA) – For over 30 years, the flagship organization for people with anxiety to turn to for professional help, self-help, and a wealth of resources and for clinicians to learn the latest and most effective treatments for anxiety and depression.  The ADAA is a principle forum where psychological and psychiatric scientists disseminate the latest theories and anxiety research information  –

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT) – One of the world’s foremost organizations of behavioral and cognitive scientists, researchers, and clinicians.  Go here for the very latest scientific information on cognitive-behavioral  therapy (CBT), anxiety, and other emotional disorders.

International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) is a not-for-profit organization composed of people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders, their families, friends, professionals and other concerned individuals whose mission o is to help individuals with OCD live full, productive lives. Their aim is to increase access to effective treatment, end the stigma associated with mental health issues, and foster a community for those affected by OCD and the professionals who treat them.”

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – Tap the U.S. government’s vast wealth of information about mental health.  The NIMH commissions and underwrites much of our research into the nature and treatment of emotional and cognitive disorders.

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