A Specific Phobia is a relatively common anxiety disorder which involves intense fear of a particular object, animal or situation. Some common phobias involve fear of insects or spiders, snakes, birds, heights, flying in aeroplanes, public transport, storms, enclosed spaces, tunnels, and bridges. Individuals with Specific Phobias will avoid the feared animal, object or situation if at all possible, or will endure it with a very high level of distress. If unable to avoid, they will often engage in “safety behaviours” (i.e., actions they believe will protect them), while in the anxiety-eliciting situation. Phobias also involve unhelpful thinking about the danger involved in encountering the feared situation; often this thinking is exaggerated or “catastrophic”.
A Specific Phobia can have a substantial impact on an individual’s functioning in various aspects of their lives such as relationships, work or study, social life, activities and leisure.
Given that most of our inherent “anxiety coping mechanisms” (such as avoidance, safety behaviours and catastrophic thinking) actually maintain the problem (and worsen it over time), treatment involves reducing these mechanisms and introducing more helpful strategies. Your therapist will work with you to introduce more helpful ways to think about the situation and to very gradually work up towards facing your feared situation/s without employing safety behaviours.