Dallas CBT specializes in exposure therapy, the most effective approach to treating fears and phobias, for children and adults. The techniques used in this form of therapy work effectively across a wide range of feared objects or situations, from dog to claustrophobia to flying phobias. Typically, we see a significant reduction in fear or anxiety relatively quickly, ranging from just a few sessions to 10 sessions. Goals for treatment include reducing or eliminating the fear and increasing tolerance and ability to be near the object, such as a dog or spider, or in the feared situation, such as a thunderstorm or elevator. A more detailed explanation of the therapy is below.
What is a Phobia?
We all have certain objects or situations that we are at least a little afraid of, whether it’s the huge dog down the street, flying, climbing a rickety ladder, or that time a spider was in the shower. When these fears become very intense and begin to affect our day-to-day functioning, they may be diagnosed as a Specific Phobia. There are a broad range of potential phobias which can be grouped into those involving animals (e.g., dogs, snakes), natural environments (e.g., heights, water), situations (e.g., flying, elevators), or medical treatments (e.g., fear of shots, blood).
Potential Signs of a Phobia
- Intense fear or anxiety about a specific thing or situation that others seem to handle fairly easily
- The fear is out of proportion with the actual danger posed by it
- Strong physical sensations, like a racing heart, heavy breathing, sweating, trembling or upset stomach when you’re thinking about or actually exposed to the feared object or situation
- Going out of your way to avoid the feared object or situation, or experiencing great distress when exposed to it
Treatments for Specific Phobias are some of the most effective and successful programs available. We offer evidence-based and effective treatment programs for a wide variety of specific phobias. Phobias can be treated within a few sessions, with the average being 5 to 10 sessions of exposure-based therapy. Treatment length varies dependent on each client’s specific needs.
Exposure therapy is a type of CBT that is highly effective for anxiety-related disorders, such as specific phobias. In fact, it is referred to as the “gold-standard” of psychological treatments for these issues. Exposure involves gradually and systematically confronting fears, with the support and expertise of your therapist, that you have been avoiding or enduring with significant distress. Exposure allows you to learn that feared consequences are unlikely to come true and that your anxiety will go down naturally over time– and will stay down after repeated exposure. There are two main types of exposures in treatment for specific phobias: imaginal, where you are asked to imagine a feared situation, and most importantly, in vivo, or real life exposure. The overall goal of exposure therapy is to reduce or eliminate avoidance of objectively safe objects or situations, which leads to reduction in anxiety and fear about these situations. Although exposure therapy causes short-term anxiety by having you face your fears, it is the most effective way to gain freedom from phobias.
In exposure therapy, you can expect to: learn about causes of phobias and factors maintaining it, change problematic behaviors, especially avoidance, regain control of behaviors through gradually and systematically confronting fears , and identify the role that thoughts play in the anxiety process while learning to frame thoughts differently. Treatment is customized to each client, with their specific anxiety and experiences influencing the content of each treatment component.