Hertfordshire Wellbeing Centre
Alexander House, Mindenhall Court
Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council
Hertfordshire Wellbeing Centre
Tel: 07584 492254
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Fears and Phobias
A phobia is a fear of a particular thing or situation. Phobias can often have a first triggering event, which then results in the individual feeling very frightened when they then think about, see or are reminded of the feared object / situation.
When a person with a phobia sees or is reminded of the feared object or situation, their mind says they are in danger, which sets off the body's alarm system (adrenaline) resulting in our experiencing many different body sensations.
These feelings seem to confirm that we are indeed in terrible danger, and we feel an urge to escape. To stop us experiencing these feelings, we will try to avoid seeing or hearing about the feared object or situation.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
CBT helps us learn to challenge the unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, combined with gradual exposure to the feared object or situation.
Challenge negative thoughts
Learning to challenge unhelpful and negative ways of thinking is an important step in overcoming your fear or phobia. When you have a phobia, you tend to overestimate how bad it will be if you’re exposed to the situation you fear. At the same time, you underestimate your ability to cope.
The anxious thoughts that trigger and fuel fears and phobias are usually negative and unrealistic. Many times, these thoughts fall into the following categories:
Overgeneralisation. “I fainted once while getting a shot. I’ll never be able to get a shot again without passing out;” “That pit bull lunged at me. All dogs are dangerous.”
Fortune telling. For example, “This bridge is going to collapse;” “I’ll make a fool of myself for sure;” “I will definitely lose it when the elevator doors close.”
Catastrophising. “The captain said we’re going through turbulence. The plane is going to crash!” “The person next to me coughed. Maybe it’s the swine flu. I’m going to get very sick!”
Once you’ve been able to identify your negative thoughts, you are in a great position to evaluate them.
Negative thought: “The lift will break down and I’ll get trapped and suffocate.”
Is there any evidence that contradicts this thought?
“I see many people using the lift and it has never broken down.”
“I cannot remember ever hearing of anyone dying from suffocation in an elevator.”
Could you do anything to resolve this situation if it does occur?
“I guess I could press the alarm button or use the telephone to call for assistance.”
Are you making a thinking error?
“Yes. I’m fortune telling, as I have no evidence to suggest that the elevator will break down.”
What would you say to a friend who has this fear?
“I would probably say that the chances of it happening are very slim as you don’t see or hear about it very often.”
“I have never actually been in an elevator that has broken down.”
“There are air vents in an elevator which will stop the air running out.”
CBT helps to think differently...more rationally
We can help you to challenge your anxiety-provoking thoughts. We tend to over-estimate the dangerousness of the object or situation and the risk of the worst thing happening, and under-estimate our ability to cope if bad things do happen. Thoughts are not statements of fact. Don't believe everything you think!
Cognitive behavioural therapy teaches people to change the way they think about a situation or about the normal anxiety feelings. By doing this you are in a great position to change how you respond to the anxious and fearful feelings associated with your fear or phobia.
CBT helping to create
positive life changes
Therapy for fears and phobias
I have suffered with a fear of dogs since I was a child. Even the sound of a dog barking was enough for me to panic.
I had tried medications but it never helped to stop the worrying thinking.
I had come to realise that there wouldn't be a quick fix but decided I would seek out a therapist to help me.
The sessions that I had with Paul helped me to step back from the automatic worrying thinking I had become used to.
By being able to step back from these thoughts helped me to change my response to my fear of dogs with the exposure therapy and happy to say that I can now tolerate dogs!
If you suffer with a fear or phobia we CAN help
Paul Allenby has been providing effective therapy since 1997 and has gained a wealth of experience in helping people in this area.
The combination of cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and exposure therapy can make a real difference to how you cope.
Check over the pages on this website to see how our private therapy sessions can help you take back control.