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Phobias are such a common reaction that almost everybody has something that they feel “funny” about, that they know is a bit irrational, but nevertheless, causes them a problem.

The severity of phobias ranges from mildly inconvenient all the way through to disruptive to living and is highly dependent on the person who is suffering and their own unique perspectives.

On the whole, people generally manage to live with phobias and they tend not to be too damaging to a person’s life.

There are, however, many people who also find that their phobia plays havoc with their lives preventing them from getting on with things, or perhaps ‘forcing’ them to miss some great opportunity in life.

For example, many people feel a bit “uncomfortable” about flying in a plane, but nevertheless, still fly and enjoy the benefits of whatever lies at the end of the plane journey, but for those who have developed a more severe phobia of flying they may be so phobic that they never take a foreign holiday, or turn down a promotion because it might entail inter-continental travel.

More ‘severe’ phobic reactions

People suffering from severe Agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) may never leave their homes becoming socially withdrawn and fearful.

Because Agoraphobics tend to socially isolate, their problem almost invariably worsens over time as human beings have a NEED for social interaction in order to stay mentally healthy.

So, with all phobias, it is important to recognise that they may be mild or severe and that no two people suffer phobias in the same way.

Why are there so many phobias?

That’s a good question!

A large percentage of phobias are ‘learned’ through behavioural observation of care-givers during our early developmental years.

What this means is that many people will ‘inherit’ a phobia from a parent simply because when we are young our critical faculties are not well developed and so learning to react to a certain situation in the same way as our care-givers saves us having to learn the ‘hard’ way.

Three possible cause of phobias

There are THREE main causes of fears and phobias:

  1. You have an actual evidential experience of a situation that had negative consequences – so if you have survived three plane crashes during your life, you do NOT have a phobia of flying, you have a rasoanble fear based on experience!
  2. You have learned to react to a situation in a phobic way through the observation of a parent or primary care-giver’s own phobic reaction – most adults who have a phobia of spiders have never been attacked by a spider, but more than likely had a parent who ‘shrieked’ at the sight of a spider and herefore assumed that the danger must be ‘real’.
  3. The thing that you are afraid of really does represent a clear and present threat to your life – however, if this is true, then its probably not a phobia but a real danger.

Overcoming phobias

People have been seeking treatment for phobias for thousands of years and there has no doubt been many weird and wonderful techniques used.

These days, however, psychologists tend to use scientific evidence-based methods that are proven to help people overcome them.

Treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), exposure therapy (where phobia sufferers are gradually exposed to the phobic situation over time in order to reduce the strength of the experience) and psychodynamic therapy which is designed to help uncover any emotional experiences associated with the phobia.

Why Choose Prevental?

Paul is a highly experienced, academically qualified psychologist with over 30 years experience of working with people to overcome life challenges and achieve life goals.

Read about Paul here

We are an approved supplier of mental health support services to the NHS Black Country Clinical Commissioning Groups who we have been working with since late 2017.

We have been helping improve people's mental health in the West Midlands since 2009 and have more than 30,000 hours of clinical experience.

Prevental Healthcare are expert mental health professionals dedicated to helping you and your employees thrive.

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