How is a Specific Phobia treated?

  • The recommended treatment for a specific phobia is exposure-based psychological treatment, in particular in vivo (real-life) exposure to the feared situation or object, rather than just imagined exposure (visualising the feared object/situation when relaxed in one’s mind). Exposure may also be introduced through virtual reality technology prior to real-life exposure. Exposure-based procedures have successfully treated most types of SPs. For some types of phobias, the exposure may need to be adapted, for example where fainting occurs in a person with blood-injury-injection phobia
  • Other psychological treatments for phobias may include relaxation and breathing training, altering thinking patterns and beliefs and learning coping statements
  • Benzodiazepine tranquillisers and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) antidepressants have been found to help facilitate exposure treatment by helping people to get past their initial resistance to exposing themselves to a feared situation and helping reduce anticipatory anxiety. For example, benzodiazepines may enable people with a fear of flying to travel on an aeroplane, and SSRIs may be particularly helpful for people whose phobia interferes with their ability to function in normal daily activities like travelling on a train