cognitive-therapy-anxiety, phobias

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a Treatment for Phobias

It is estimated that phobias affect 7.8 American adults per year making it an extremely common cause of mental illness among the population. Most people are afraid of something, but when that fear becomes irrational or excessive, it can cause feelings of panic, dread, horror and anxiety making certain situations more challenging for the individual. There are various treatment options available, one of which is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). How is this therapy used to treat certain phobias?
cognitive-therapy-anxiety, phobiasCognitive therapies for specific phobias
Some phobias are fairly common, such as fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) or fear of heights (acrophobia). Exposure therapy is common approach to treating specific phobias as it involves gradually exposing a person to their irrational fear. This therapeutic approach may help those who have fears which impact negatively and regularly on their daily lives. For example, someone who has a fear of flying or heights may have to travel for work purposes. CBT may be a solution for those who do not have regular exposure to their fear. This therapy helps a person to identify any unhelpful beliefs. Using the flying analogy, you may feel that turbulence will make the plane crash. Your therapist may provide more education on how routine landings are for pilots or the training they receive to handle events like turbulence to combat these irrational beliefs.
When fear of death becomes a phobia
A fear of death is reasonably healthy and affects many people at different stages of life. However, when that fear causes daily challenges, it may be time to look into therapeutic intervention. Many people with this type of phobia may have symptoms including hypochondria, which leads them to report regularly to their doctor. Others may be hypervigilant, which may lead to associated phobias, like agoraphobia. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you to acknowledge these irrational thoughts and identify when you are most likely to be triggered. Your therapist will then help you to manage or change your behaviors, reducing the feelings of anxiety, fear and stress. Cognitive behavioral techniques may be a more gradual way to approach your intense feelings about death as some individuals may find exposure therapy overwhelming for this type of phobia.
Cognitive therapies for social phobias
Social anxiety is a common form of social phobia which can lead you to avoid situations that include people other than loved ones. You may also have fears of speaking to new people or feelings that you may embarrass yourself in social situations. These can be debilitating feelings which can impact on your ability to lead a stable, healthy life. Cognitive techniques can help to manage feelings of anxiety by use of breathing techniques or changing your thought process. For example, you may think sharing your idea in a meeting will be met with laughter instead of acceptance. Your therapist can help you adapt this belief into a more positive one.
Cognitive behavioral techniques may be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies that may help someone to recognize where their phobia originated. It offers a long-term solution to those who need to manage their phobia on a regular basis and can be extremely helpful to those with social phobias which affect their ability to lead a regular life.
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Editor’s note: If you have experienced suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide and want to seek help, you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741 or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Marie Benz