Treatment for Fears and Phobias

By | May 20, 2017

Fears and phobias treatment psychology paper sample

Phobia is the psychological state characterized by the unreasonable fear of particular situations, activities, objects, or people. While the fear itself is a natural response to a threat or danger, in phobias, it takes the form of an uncontrolled and overwhelming feeling that absorbs all other thoughts and emotions. Every type of phobia has its own name. Thus, for example, the fear of heights is called acrophobia, the fear of tight spaces – claustrophobia, the fear of blood – homophobia, etc. (Buchanan & Coulson, 2012). Statistics shows that more than ten million American adults have some sorts of phobias, which may be manifested differently depending on the individual’s psychological state and anxiety levels (Winerman, 2005). Phobias are extremely disturbing conditions that affect the quality of life; however, they can be successfully treated with the help of medications and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The most effective treatment of phobias is cognitive behavioral therapy. During CBT, psychotherapists expose patients to their fears to help them understand the source of their phobia and fight obsessive thoughts (Dobson, 2009). This therapy is based on the idea that suppressing and avoiding one’s fears lead to greater stress and anxiety; therefore, it is important to face the fear and try to minimize the discomfort. It is believed that the majority of patients undergoing this treatment manage to overcome their psychological problems and achieve long-term mental well-being. A comprehensive review of meta-analyses performed by Hofmann et al. (2012) showed that CBT is one of the most effective methods for treating specific phobias. Notably, the use of relaxation techniques was also found to produce a long-term positive effect (Hofmann et al., 2012).

Sometimes, medications are prescribed as the additional treatment to reduce the symptoms of phobias and prevent panic attacks. These typically include antidepressants because these drugs have proven effectiveness in fighting anxiety and physical manifestations of stress. Medications alone are rarely used to treat phobias because they affect the symptoms but cannot change patients’ cognitive perceptions and fears. In other words, they do not target the sources of fear and can only bring timely improvement. To summarize, it is important to note that phobia is the wearing mental state that affects everyday life, limits activities, and leads to ongoing stress. People suffering this mental condition should be aware of the existing treatment options and should be educated on the effectiveness of these methods.

References:

Buchanan. H., & Coulson, N. (2012). Phobias. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dobson, K. S. (2009). Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies (3d ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J. J., Sawyer, A. T., & Fang, A. (2012). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognit Ther Res., 36(5), 427–440. doi:10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1
Winerman, L. (2005). Figuring out phobia. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug05/figuring.aspx

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