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Overcoming Phobias: How Exposure Therapy Can Help You Conquer Your Fears

Angela Paoli
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Embrace your freedom from phobias through exposure therapy.

Overcoming phobias releases the restrictions on life experiences and growth opportunities that many people face. But how do you break free? There is hope. Online therapy services offer a promising treatment called exposure therapy.

Exposure therapy is a simple way of getting closer to overcoming your fears. It's a powerful tool that can illuminate your path toward liberation from phobias and anxiety symptoms.

Here's how exposure therapy can help you overcome your phobias.

» Find out how to select the right therapist for your unique needs.

How Exposure Therapy Works

Exposure therapy is a popular method used to help people overcome phobias and anxiety disorders.

It aims to help you confront and conquer your irrational fears, as well as other anxiety disorders. This is accomplished by gradually exposing them to what you're afraid of in a controlled and supportive setting.

This process is typically guided by experienced therapists rather than by close family and loved ones at home. Reliable professionals can be reached through an online therapy platform like BetterHelp.

Exposure therapy works by breaking the link between the thing you're afraid of and the bad feelings it gives you. Over time, it helps you get used to what you're afraid of and stop feeling anxious about it.

This approach can be an effective treatment for many phobias and anxiety disorders. It can help you gradually build up your confidence and reduce your fear's impact on your daily life.

Diverse Approaches to Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy involves different methods depending on the type of phobia and how comfortable the person is with facing their fears. Different exposure therapy techniques include:

In Vivo Exposure

In vivo exposure involves you facing your specific fear. This is a more practical approach for non-abstract fears, such as the dentist or confined spaces like elevators.

In vivo exposure therapy can be a very effective treatment for anxiety disorders, but it is important to note that it can be challenging and may cause discomfort. The therapist will work with the person to develop a plan tailored to their specific needs and gradually increase the intensity of the exposure over time.

Virtual Reality Exposure

Here, you utilize technology in a controlled environment to expose yourself to the feared object or situation.

This method is appropriate when a direct encounter, such as with a fear of heights, may not be feasible.

Cognitive Restructuring

In a case such as this, you would identify and challenge your beliefs about the feared object or situation to reduce anxiety.

This may involve looking at the situation from a different perspective or considering the evidence for and against other ways of thinking.

Graded Exposure

This involves creating a fear hierarchy, starting with your most minor anxiety-provoking situation and gradually progressing to more challenging ones.

For instance, a fear of small spaces might involve starting with a mildly confined space and gradually moving to smaller areas.

» On a budget? Here are 10 ways alone time can help you improve your mental health.

Who Can Exposure Therapy Help?

Around 80% to 90% of people respond positively to exposure therapy. It can be especially beneficial for individuals experiencing various phobias and anxiety disorders, such as:

  • Specific phobias, such as fear of heights, spiders, or flying
  • Social anxieties
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

How Can Exposure Therapy Help?

Exposure therapy can help individuals overcome their phobias by weakening the association between the feared object or situation and the anxiety response. Your body learns that the feared object or situation is not dangerous, and the anxiety response gradually disappears.

For example, being able to be in the same room as a snake without feeling anxiety when there was once a phobia of snakes. Exposure therapy also helps by building your resilience and reducing the impact of your phobias.

Once you successfully confront your fears, you learn that you can handle them. This builds confidence, making you less likely to avoid your fears in the future. Improving daily functioning and quality of life so that you're no longer prevented from doing the things you enjoy and from reaching your full potential.

An example in this case could be missing an opportunity for a promotion at work due to a fear of public speaking.

Another positive result of exposure therapy is being able to engage in activities you previously avoided, which can significantly improve your quality of life. A fear of flying, for example, would no longer prevent you from the opportunities of traveling, visiting your loved ones, or relocating.

» Looking for some options? Calmerry caters to a wide variety of therapy types.

Practical Limitations

It's essential to tailor the approach to the specific fear, taking into account practical limitations such as:

  • Availability of resources: Some exposure therapy techniques require specialized equipment and trained professionals, which may not be readily available.
  • Safety concerns: In instances where individuals are directly exposed to their fear, it may not be feasible for specific phobias, such as fear of dangerous animals.
  • Individual's comfort level: Exposure therapy should be conducted at a pace that is comfortable for the individual to avoid setbacks.

The Path to Overcoming Your Fears

Embrace your courage and confront your fears. If you have a phobia, seeking professional help can be a valuable step toward overcoming your fears. Exposure therapy is known to be an effective treatment for deep fears and anxieties.

A qualified therapist, like myself, can guide you through the process and provide support throughout your journey. All you need is to take the next step.

» Feeling ready? Here's how to get the most out of online therapy.

Angela Paoli
Angela Paoli writes for Top10.com and is currently works as a tele-health Therapist Associate providing evidence-based treatments to diverse individuals who are experiencing anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar, insomnia, ADHD, etc. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work and has over a decade of experience working as a licensed social worker and online therapist. She specializes in providing mental health services to US military members and their families.

The author of this article has been paid by Natural Intelligence to write this article. Neither the author nor Natural Intelligence provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.