Mind Matters: Phobias

There are plenty of things to be afraid of in the world and for most paranormal geeks they include a face-to-face with Bigfoot, a pesky ghost in our home, or perhaps being abducted by aliens. But, it's comforting to know that 10% of the population suffers from phobias and they are also very treatable and curable with cognitive-behavioral therapy! 

Some of the reactions to phobias are like panic attacks - sweaty palms, fast pulse, feelings of unreality, preoccupied thinking about phobia, breathlessness, fear of dying, trembling, and more.

Common phobias include but are not limited to things like public speaking, heights, snakes, spiders, being in crowds, elevators, tight spaces, flying, water, blood, bridges, storms....

There is some talk among scientists that phobias could possibly be passed down in DNA. It would be an interesting way for cautious warnings to be passed on from parent to child. Even with that being said, cognitive-behavioral therapy is extremely effective at blasting away the fears.

LINKCognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, enables you to manage your fears by helping you gradually change the way you think. It's based on the interconnectedness of thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors.

A phobia sufferer believes that the feared situation is inherently dangerous. This belief leads to negative automatic thoughts that occur as soon as the feared situation is encountered and the automatic thoughts lead to a phobic behavioral reaction.

It may take several CBT sessions to counteract this thought pattern. In order to accomplish this, the therapist can help you overcome your fear of dogs with incremental steps. A sample treatment plan might include first reading about dogs, then watching a dog movie, and finally taking you to play with a harmless puppy.

Techniques commonly used in cognitive behavioral therapy draw from the schools of behaviorism and learning theory as well as the school of cognitive theory.