The different types of phobias that I see would defy any rational comprehension. The common ones: Emetophobia (fear of vomiting), Ornithophobia (birds), acrophobia (heights) and the odd: Coulrophobia (fear of clowns), Globophobia (balloons), and the really strange such as a fear of dolls with blinky eyes.
There are are a few basic methods of dealing with phobias:
- Immersion therapy, where the client is exposed to the source of the fear.
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), a process of uncovering the inner thoughts using notebooks etc.
Often the thought of immersion therapy is too daunting for a client. It seems somewhat absurd, even cruel, to subject someone to what they fear and if it doesn’t work you could find the person is in a bigger mess than when they came.
CBT can be effective in certain cases. It suits a particular type of person but it’s a very crude method of addressing the problem. In the UK they train people in CBT. They are not psychologists, they simply follow a formula. It’s cheap and compared to the very low standards that most psychologists have set for themselves it’s relatively effective. This study shows meta-analysis data. Success rates for hypnotherapy are very much more effective.
Although antidepressants have their place, they are really only a tool to enable the client to approach therapy so that they can deal with the cause of the problem. The drug companies would love you to stay on them but I can assure you they don’t have your interests at heart!
I use mindfulness which enables the client to become aware of the source of the fear and understand it. I say that when you’ve learnt something, you can’t unlearn it. You may forget it but then it’s usually simple to bring someone back to that state of remembering. There’s a lot of tricks that therapist use for phobias but mindfulness is empowering.and many people describe the process as life changing.