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Overcoming Fears and Phobias with CBT Treatment



A specific phobia is an intense fear of a particular thing like a dog, or a situation like flying in an aeroplane.

People’s fear of the object or situation is so severe that they may experience physical symptoms of anxiety, and even have panic attacks, when confronted with it, or even anticipating having to deal with it.

People with a specific phobia either avoid the thing/situation they fear or endure the situation or object with distress.

The adult phobia sufferers knows their fear of the object or situation is excessive or unreasonable. Simple phobias impact on the sufferers ability to function be it at work, socialise, study or cause significant distress.

Common phobias include:

  • Fear of the dark
  • Fear of water
  • Fear of heights (heights phobia)
  • Fear of animals (e.g. dog phobias, bird phobias, insect phobias, mice phobias, spider phobias)
  • Fear of enclosed spaces or being trapped (e.g. tunnels, lifts, flying in a plane)
  • Fear of blood and injury ( e.g. seeing blood or an injury or having a needle phobia)
  • Fear of water
  • Fear of vomiting (vomiting phobia)
  • Fear of the dentist

Specific phobias are very common, with 10-20% of the population developing a phobia during their lives. Phobias often start in childhood but can occur at any age. Phobias are roughly twice as common among women than men,


Psychological treatment of phobias involves: education about anxiety, slow breathing to control hyperventilation,  and relaxation training (e.g. progressive muscle relaxation, isometric relaxation),  graded exposure therapy and cognitive therapy.

Melbourne Clinical psychologist Catherine Madigan offers CBT treatment for phobias so call 9819 3671 or 0419 104284 to schedule an appointment or email anxietyaustralia.com.au @gmail.com

American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

Burns, D.D. (1999) The Feeling Good Handbook, New York, New York. Plume.

Please note, it is important to consult a qualified mental health practitioner such as e.g. a psychologist or psychiatrist to confirm any diagnosis you think you might have. You must not rely on the information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No assurance can be given that the information on this site will always include the most recent developments or research with respect to a particular topic.

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