Treatment for phobias

Phobia Treatment

The good news is almost all phobias, as with most anxiety disorders can be successfully treated. There are options, with talking therapies such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) among the most successful.

Before CBT, the treatment for phobias was known as "systematic desensitisation", a process in which people were exposed to their fear in a 'hierarchical' way, this was a step by step approach increasing the sufferer's exposure to their fear, but ending exposure as soon as the recipiant felt anxiety. Next time this would be pushed a little further, hoping for the result of increased exposure before the subject felt anxiety.

Nowadays, CBT takes this 'hierarchical' exposure is taken one step further and the intensity is increased. Instead of the exposure ending at the point of anxiety, during CBT, the sufferer will learn new ways of thinking and acting when they feel the anxiety, thus enabling them to deal with symptoms of anxiety positively, instead of shying away from them.

CBT has been proven most effective in the treatment of anxiety and phobias. If you would like to find a practitioner in your area, please see our counselling directory.

Our 'Overcoming Anxiety Programme' uses CBT and other counselling techniques to help anxiety and phobia sufferers take back freedom of their lives.

Complex phobias

Complex phobias are, as the name suggests, more 'complex' than 'simple' phobias. Simple phobias (as explained in our phobia section) are a phobia of a specific object, thing, or situation, while a complex phobia may have many elements, for example agoraphobia (a condition often rendering the sufferer housebound) could be a range of more complex fears that see the sufferer fearful of going out/the public/embarassment/fainting/sickness, or many other possibilities unique to the individual.

Treating complex phobias often involves:

  • Talking therapies such as counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • CBT as mentioned above.
  • Medication is occasionally prescribed to help sufferers cope with their anxiety, but is not routinely prescribed as a treatment for phobias.

This treatment can take some time and often has a focus on the root cause of the fear and underlying anxiety.

When a fear gets to the stage it is interfering with other aspects of your life it is time to seek help. There are self-help options, our 'Overcoming Anxiety Programme' as advertised below has been acclaimed by medical and psychology professionals alike, while there are many fantastic books and online tools available. Please refer to our counselling directory for professional help, or seek help with your own GP.

There is treatment available, please do not suffer in silence.

Please see some resources below:

Good things come to those who wait? Bollocks! Good things come to those who work hard and go and GET!


Anxiety UK

1st Floor Cityside House, 40 Adler Street,

London, E1 1EE

Helpline: 0845 767 8000

E-mail: [email protected]


SANEline and SANEmail offer emotional support and information to those experiencing mental health problems, their families and carers.

Zion Community Resource Centre,339 Stretford Road,

Hulme, Manchester, M15 4ZY, 

E-mail: [email protected]


Information and help for people with obsessions and anxiety problems


Further reading

For more information on phobias, please visit:

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