What are Phobias?

Phobias are excessive fears. They can be related to any number of things but are typically related to things like animals (e.g., spiders, insects, dogs), the environment (e.g., heights, storms, water), blood-infection-injury (e.g., needles, invasive medical procedures), situations (e.g., airplanes, elevators, enclosed spaces), or others miscellaneous things (e.g., choking or vomiting, loud sounds, costumed characters). When people have phobias and are in some way exposed to the feared object--a spider, for example--they have a heightened reaction to it and may experience a sudden rush of intense emotion. Because of these intense emotions, the feared object is avoided, sometimes at the cost of living a full life.


How to Manage Phobias

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help people learn skills, such as mindfulness and acceptance, in order to learn how to relate differently to these intense emotions so that they can live a full life. ACT is an exposure-based therapy meaning that it encourages people to move toward uncomfortable feelings like anixety. But, unlike traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy, ACT emphasizes the importance of willingness to approach anxiety in the service of your values; for example, if someone has a fear of flying, it may be important to get on a plane in order to attend a friend's wedding.


Resources

You can learn more about phobias here. You might also be interested in purchasing my book.




If you are interested in learning more or in working with me please go to my homepage to contact me or schedule your free 15-minute phone call.


Please note that the information in this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for psychological or medical care.  If you are looking for professional help, visit my resources page for guidance on how to find a therapist.  If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest ER.

Dr. Carissa Gustafson, Clinical Psychologist Los Angeles
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