Treatment for Phobias
Table of Contents
The treatment of specific (or simple) phobias usually involves primarily a type of psychotherapy called behavioral therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), depending upon the therapist. Any help in maintaining the social structure is anxiety-alleviating, and work, school, and social activities should be maintained.
Behavioral approaches are widely used in various anxiety disorders. Desensitization, by exposing the patient to graded doses of a phobic object or situation, is an effective technique and one that the patient can practice outside of the therapy session. Emotive imagery, wherein the patient imagines the anxiety-provoking situation while at the same time learning to relax, helps to decrease the anxiety when the patient faces the real life situation.
"Modeling" techniques are used when anxiety is related to lack of confidence and the patient looks to the therapist as a model of how to handle anxiety-provoking situations.
The relaxation techniques used by hypnotists and behavior therapists may prove helpful to many patients, especially those who are suggestible. In the initial stages, after therapists have instructed their patients in the various methods of relaxation, they should allow the patients to practice the methods in the office. In that way, therapists may add their encouragement and positive suggestion to their patients' efforts. The ultimate goal is to enable patients to employ the techniques alone in the course of their daily lives.
Patients should not only follow a regular daily schedule of exercises, but should be encouraged to employ those exercises at any time when they are facing an anxiety-provoking situation or feel their inner tension rising. For those patients with a capacity for hypnotic trance, instruction in the techniques of self-hypnosis may potentiate the effect of the relaxation exercises.
Simple forms of meditation that do not have religious implications, by reversing the processes that lead to autonomic arousal, may be effective in combating the symptoms arising from autonomic nervous system discharge. A recent study suggests that the symptoms of those individuals who have a capacity for hypnotic trance induction are particularly responsive to the use of meditative techniques.
Self-help methods for the treatment of this disorder are often overlooked by the medical profession because very few professionals are involved in them. Encouraging the individual with borderline personality disorder to gain additional social support, however, is an important aspect of treatment. Many support groups exist within communities throughout the world which are devoted to helping individuals with this disorder share their commons experiences and feelings.
Patients can be encouraged to try out new coping skills and emotion regulation with people they meet within support groups. They can be an important part of expanding the individual's skill set and develop new, healthier social relationships.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 May 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.