A phobia cure seems out of reach to sufferers, but there are some proven techniques which reduce and even eliminate the symptoms in as little as a single session. This may sound far fetched if you are cursed with a phobia, but I, and similarly trained therapists, have known for decades how to stop a phobic response without resorting the traditional technique of systemic desensitisation.
There are a variety of modern techniques which are quick, effective, and involve almost no discomfort. Whereas the traiditional phobia cure has focused on the phobic respons…
A phobia is an extreme and recurrent anxiety response. Though sufferers often don’t believe that anything can help them, there are proven Brief Therapy techniques for dealing effectively with a phobia. This means finding a practitioner who has had the appropriate training, and the purpose of this post is to point you in the right direction.
More pronounced than fear, a phobia occurs when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about something. Though sufferers typically associate the fear with an object or situation (a spider, an elevator), the problem is the fear response, not the trigger that it has latched on to. So much so, that after a few experiences of a panic attack or terror, sufferers will start to ‘fear the fear’, staying well away from the situation that triggers it.
An involuntary response
People are often embarrassed about their phobias and will go to extreme lengths to conceal them. They may say they feel silly or that their phobia is a sign of weakness. Neither is true of course, though sadly, they may also have been ridiculed or given unhelpful advice like “pull yourself together”.
Anxiety is a constellation of natural physical and emotional responses, linked of our evolutionary survival mechanisms. Furthermore, it is entirely involuntary, and triggers may be outside conscious awareness, so asking someone to control it is pointless. In fact, struggling to overcome or ‘beat’ the anxiety only serves to make things appear worse, thus further reinforcing the belief that the phobia ‘can’t be beaten’.
Given the occurrence of phobias in people generally, and that so many suffer from some form of anxiety at some time in their lives, it is curious that effective treatment in the UK is so sadly lacking. It is reassuring to know that there is no mystery about how to deal with a phobia if you speak to the right people.
You’ll have no trouble finding self-help groups and books which give advice on managing the symptoms. However, beware of unproductively focusing on the phobia as this usually only serves to confirm it. Acknowledging one’s phobia is fine as long as it normalises (rather than dramatises) it, and helps with acceptance. Anxiety reducing methods like mindfulness, relaxation and visualisation are often a help.
There are several effective and brief techniques which rid sufferers of a trauma or phobia. I use a process called The Fast Phobia Cure, the Rewind Technique, or the VK. It involves a relaxation and visualisation process which is highly effective and only requires one visit to produce the desired effect in most people. Occasionally clients need another session or two, but this is usually a question of helping them build confidence that their phobia really is a thing of the past.
If you are seeking the help of a therapist be up-front with your questions. Specialists who know the right techniques will be able to tell you specifically how they work and the results you can expect. You must feel safe and confident with the therapist and their approach, so it is important that these things are explained in a jargon-free way.
Phobias respond well to effective brief treatment but most people seem unaware of this. If you suffer from a phobia it is only natural to feel nervous about seeking treatment; fear is the overriding emotion in anxiety and thinking and talking about it is uncomfortable. The key thing to know is that a brief therapist doesn’t focus on the problem, but on working with you to find effective solutions, which can be a totally new experience.
Contact me if you have a question.
This post draws on the references below. As I wanted it to be accessible and readable I have not referenced all the points that I have made, but all can be checked against these sources.
Goldberger, L., Breznitz, S., (1993), Handbook of Stress, Theoretical and Clinical Aspects, The Free Press, New York
Ost L. G., One-session treatment for specific phobias, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 1989;27(1):1-7.
Shiraldi, G. R., (1997), The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth, McGraw-Hill, New York.