Phobias can be thought of as a form of anxiety. Being afraid of things like dizzying heights and genuine physical threats is a completely natural response which has evolved to protect us from threats to our survival. However, when these natural fears become more extreme, often focusing on things which cannot hurt you or causing excessive reactions when faced with minor risks, they can be classed as a phobia. They are fairly common, but in some cases the desire to avoid the subject of the phobia or the individual’s reaction to it can start to interfere with their everyday life. In these cases, counselling can help to tackle the issue.
Irrational Phobia or Natural Fear?
Generally speaking, phobias come from the same logical fear response all of us experience when confronted with danger. Common phobias include things like the fear of spiders (arachnophobia) and the fear of flying (aerophobia), and these have clear relationships to the genuine possibility of harm. However, these are often classed as phobias because of the severity of the response (avoiding flying altogether or leaving a room when a spider is spotted) and the irrationality of the fear (spiders in the UK, for example, can’t seriously hurt you, and planes only crash extremely rarely).
Types of Phobias
Phobias can be classed as specific phobias, which centre on one specific stimulus, or complex phobias which involve numerous situations, such as social phobia. Specific phobias can be broken down into four different groups, fear of animals (such as snakes), the natural environment (heights), situations (like visiting the dentist) and body-based phobias (blood). A counsellor uses similar techniques regardless of the specific subject of the phobia. Other more complex types of phobia include claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) and monophobia (fear of loneliness).
Symptoms of Phobias
There are many different potential symptoms of a phobia, but these are generally related to anxiety. When confronted with the subject of the phobia (or in severe cases, when thinking about it) sweating, increased heart rate, trembling, dizziness and chest pain are common. Psychological symptoms such as fear of death and a feeling of being detached from the body also manifest in people with phobias. A therapist can use the presence of these symptoms to determine the severity of a phobia, and will often try to manage them through things like relaxation techniques.
Phobia Counselling Luton
Many cases of phobias can be resolved without psychotherapy, but in more extreme cases self-help approaches may not be effective. Consider counselling for your phobia if it’s interfering with your everyday life, causing you intense or excessive fear, making you avoid certain types of situation and has persisted for over six months. Medication can be used for phobias, but talking treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy are more effective. It tackles both the irrational and damaging thought patterns which contribute to the problem and the behaviours which allow it to persist. A common method is called exposure therapy, in which the individual is introduced gradually (and with sufficient psychological support) to objects or situations which provoke fear. This empowers the individual over time so the phobia no longer controls their behaviour.
If you or your loved one has a phobia which is interfering with your day to day life, finding help is absolutely vital. A counsellor can help you work through the issues and identify the damaging thinking patterns and behaviours which contribute to the problem. Therapy isn’t ordinarily necessary for phobias, but if the reactions are severe getting treatment is highly advised. We’ll discuss your treatment options with you, and we can also conduct assessments to determine your requirements. Visit us in person at our Luton offices or get in touch with us by telephone and see how we can help you! For more information about our costs for phobia counselling services please see the about us page.