A phobia (from the Greek: phobos) is an irrational, intense, persistent fear of certain
situations, activities, objects or persons. The main symptoms of this disorder are
an intense, irrational desire to avoid the feared trigger(s) and an excessive anxiety
response when confronted with the trigger(s).
Phobias may be divided into two groups, Specific and Complex. The former being a
phobia to a “Specific” trigger, such as a fear of animals, needles, being ill, vomiting
or dentists and the latter being as above but involving multiple triggers for the
anxiety response. An example being Agoraphobia (fear of the market place); which
may include a fear of entering shops, crowds, or public places, of travelling in
trains, buses, or planes and including an increased anxiety response when unable
to immediately escape to a place of safety. Both specific and complex phobias may
be complicated by panic attacks, which are an extreme anxiety response to a situational
trigger, not to be confused with panic disorder which is often described as “coming
out of the blue”.
If the fear is beyond one's control, or is significantly interfering with one’s activities
of daily life an anxiety disorder may be a diagnosed.
Common Phobias include: (Click here for full list of phobias)
Acrophobia - the fear of heights
Agoraphobia - a fear of the “market place”
Amathophobia - a fear of dust
Astraphobia - a fear of thunder and lightning
Aviophobia - a fear of flying
Belonephobia - a fear of needles/pins/ other sharp objects
Brontophobia - a fear of thunder
Claustrophobia - a fear of confined spaces
Emetophobia - a fear of vomiting or witnessing others vomit
Gephyrophobia - a fear of crossing bridges
Hydrophobia - a fear of water
Nosemaphobia - a fear of becoming ill
Odontiatophobia - the fear of dentists
Phobophobia - fear of having fears or developing a phobia
Triskaidekaphobia - a fear of all things associated with the number thirteen
Trypanophobia - a fear of injections
Zoophobia - a fear of animals (usually spiders, birds, snakes, or mice)
Cognitive & Behavioural Psychotherapists collaborate with the patient to assess
and identify all maintaining factors; including thoughts, behaviours, emotions and
physical symptoms associated with the problem and develop a working formulation which
will be utilised to guide the course of therapy.
The treatment of choice here is Graded Exposure, in which the behavioural psychotherapist
will collaborate with the patient to develop and implement a hierarchy for exposure,
identifying all triggers for the phobia and introducing these in a manner in which
will provoke the anxiety response to a manageable level. Encouragement is given to
increase helpful and decrease unhelpful behaviours.
Final Stages of the therapeutic interventions are aimed at relapse prevention strategies.