Do you have a phobia? Do your phobias affect your day to day life? Would you like help trying to overcome your phobia? Here is some useful information you will find helpful.

What are phobias??

A phobia is an overwhelming fear of an object, place, animal, feeling or situation. Phobias are much more pronounced than fears. They usually develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a certain situation or object etc. It is possible for phobias to become very severe. If this were to happen a person may plan their days/weeks or even lives around avoiding the thing that will cause them anxiety and distress.So phobias can restrict a person’s day-to-day life. There are many different things a person can develop a phobia about but everyone is different, for example one person may have a phobia of spiders which is known as arachnophobia and another may have a phobia of public speaking which is known as glossophobia (For more information on glossophobia see our monthly blog at the following link - https://www.theaoc.org.uk/i-overcame-fear-public-speaking/However, there are two categories phobias can divided into they are;
  • Specific/simple phobias
  • Complex phobias
2015-08-27 22.13.49The two categories are discussed below;

Specific or simple phobias;

Specific or simple phobias centre around a particular object, animal, situation or activity. They often develop during childhood or adolescence and may become less severe as you get older. Common examples of simple phobias include:
  • Animal phobias – such as dogs, spiders, snakes or rodents
  • Environmental phobias – such as heights, deep water and germs
  • Situational phobias – such as visiting the dentist or flying
  • Bodily phobias – such as blood, vomit or having injections
  • Sexual phobias – such as performance anxiety or the fear of getting a sexually transmitted infection

Complex phobias;

Complex phobias tend to be more disabling than simple phobias. They tend to develop during adulthood and are often associated with a deep-rooted fear or anxiety about a particular situation or circumstance.The two most common complex phobias are:
  • Agoraphobia
  • Social phobia 
Agoraphobia is often thought of as a fear of open spaces, but it's much more complex than this. Someone with agoraphobia will feel anxious about being in a place or situation where escaping may be difficult if they have a panic attack. The anxiety usually results in the person avoiding situations such as:
  • Being alone
  • Being in crowded places, such as busy restaurants or supermarkets 
  • Travelling on public transport
Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, centres around feeling anxious in social situations. If you have a social phobia, you might be afraid of speaking in front of people for fear of embarrassing yourself and being humiliated in public.In severe cases, this can become debilitating and may prevent you from carrying out everyday activities, such as eating out or meeting friends.(The NHS - http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Phobias/Pages/Introduction.aspx)

Who Does It Effect?

Phobias can effect anyone regardless of age, sex or social background. Some phobias will have a bigger effect than others, for example – social phobias will have a bigger effect than an animal phobia because the animal phobia would usually be easier to avoid. Phobias an also have a knock on effect to the people supporting you or are around you.An example of this is - if you were to have a fear of tigers/lions (Ailurophobia – the fear of cats) and your child wanted to visit the zoo, you wouldn’t be able to go and enjoy this time with your child because of the phobia meaning you would miss out on the activity or the child would not be able to go either more than likely causing them upset. So it’s easy to see how phobias can have an effect on the day-to-day life, even more so when they are severe.

Statistics

  • Females are more prone to irrational fears than males. Phobia statistics suggest that roughly twice as many women as men suffer from panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and specific phobia though about equal numbers of women and men have obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobia
  • Almost 6.2 million citizens have some sort of specific phobia
  • All three types of phobia, social, agoraphobia and specific are likely to affect between 5 and 10 people in every 100
  • Approximately 5.3 million adults aged 18 to 54, or about 3.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have social phobia. Social phobia typically begins in childhood or adolescence
  • Phobia statistics indicate that approximately 1 in 23 people suffer from phobias. That’s nearly 4.25% of the population. There are roughly 11.5 million sufferers in the US and 2.5 million in the UK
  • Statistics show that men are more likely to consult their GP about their phobia than women
The five most common phobias in the UK are;
  1. Emetophobia – The fear of vomiting – This is not to be mistaken with an eating disorder, the fear of vomiting is surprisingly common. It can include a fear of seeing others vomit but for others it is the fear of vomiting themselves.
  2. Acrophobia – The fear of heights – Many people who have a fear of heights are unable to cross bridges, fly and carry out many other activities. A case from ‘Dynamic You’ was unable to accept a job promotion as it meant moving to a higher floor in the office.
  3. Social Anxiety Disorder – Social Phobia – Formally known as social phobia, social anxiety disorder is one of the most common anxiety problems. It is also one of the most under treated with the average time before people seek treatment being around 10 years! It is related to anxiety in social situations due to a fear of negative opinions/judgements by others. This is not to be mistaken with anthropophobia, which is a fear of people.
  4. Zoophobia – The fear of animals – These are the phobias people are most aware of such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders) etc. You would think that the UK is a lover of dogs but cynophobia, the fear of dogs is especially common here.
  5. Blood-injury-needle phobia – This is usually the only phobia which can cause the sufferer to biologically pass out. People who suffer with this phobia can often pass out at the sight of blood, at the anticipation of receiving an injection or just generally being injured.
Examples of People with Stress“There's a vast encyclopaedia of fears and phobias, and pretty much any object, experience, situation you can think of, there is someone who has a phobia of it.” - Scott Stossel“I would gladly do it but I am suffering from social phobia. I cannot manage being in a crowd of people.” - Elfriede Jelinek“When you explore your fears then you set yourself free.”  ― Stephen RichardsReleasing You from Fear.“In fiction: we find the predictable boring. In real life: we find the unpredictable terrifying.” ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

How Can it be Treated?

Phobias aren't usually formally diagnosed. Most people with a phobia are fully aware of the problem. A person will sometimes choose to live with a phobia, taking great care to avoid the object or situation they're afraid of. However, if you have a phobia, continually trying to avoid what you're afraid of will make the situation worse. If you have a phobia, you should seek help from your GP. They may refer you to a specialist with expertise in behavioural therapy, such as a counsellor or therapist.Almost all phobias can be successfully treated and cured. Simple phobias can be treated through gradual exposure to the object, animal, place or situation that causes fear and anxiety. This is known as desensitisation or self-exposure therapy. You could try these methods with the help of a professional or as part of a self-help programme.Treating complex phobias often takes longer and involves talking therapies, such as:
  • Counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Medication isn't usually used to treat phobias. However, it's sometimes prescribed to help people cope with the effects of anxiety. Medications that may be used include:
  • Antidepressants
  • Tranquillisers
  • Beta-blockers
The AOC can help you to overcome any phobia you may be dealing with. We have a team of highly skilled, professional counsellors and associate therapists to help you through with the use of dramatherapy. This can be in a group session or one-to-one depending on your preference. We will match you to our best suited therapist/counsellor to help you with your phobia. Group dramatherapy is usually more common when it comes to most phobias as the suffering can share their phobias with others who are dealing with a different, similar or even the same phobia. If you were to have social phobia, group therapy would not be for you and you may prefer a one-to-one session with one of our fantastic therapists.The AOC/901 If you would like to receive counselling from The AOC please fill out on of our online referral forms and send to support@theaoc.org.uk You will have a choice of 3 different types of referral forms;
  1. For individuals or couples
  2. Family referral form
  3. Group referral form
Please select the referral form most suited to you i.e. if you would like group therapy, fill out the group referral form.Simply click the following link to find out more information and complete one of our referral forms:https://www.theaoc.org.uk/about-the-arts-of-change/self-referral-therapy-forms/We provide our clients with high-quality, evidence based expertise in the form of personal therapy and counselling. To help anyone suffering with any type of phobia. The AOC offer two main forms of treatment in the forms of dramatherapy and integrative counselling.DramatherapyCreative Arts Therapies (drama, art, movement, music therapy or psychodrama)Dramatherapy is a form of psychological therapy/psychotherapy in which all of the  performance arts are utilised within the therapeutic relationship. Dramatherapy addresses a wide range of personal and emotional difficulties. Clients who are referred to a dramatherapist do not need to have previous experience or skill in acting, theatre or drama. Dramatherapists are trained to enable clients to find the most suitable medium for them to engage in group or individual therapy to address and resolve, or make troubling issues more bearable. Dramatherapists work in a wide variety of settings with people of all ages:
  • In schools
  • In mental health
  • In general health and social care settings
  • In prisons
  • In hospices
  • In the voluntary sector
  • In private practice
Dramatherapists are both artists and clinicians and draw on their training’s in theatre, drama and therapy to create methods to engage clients in effecting psychological, emotional and social changes.  The therapy gives equal validity to body and mind within the dramatic context; stories, myths, play-texts, puppetry, masks and improvisation are examples of the range of artistic interventions a dramatherapist may employ.  These will enable the client to explore difficult and painful life experiences through a creative-expressive approach. Dramatherapists are vtrained in both psychological and arts-specific assessment and evaluation techniques. They are committed to generating practice-based evidence and deliver sound evidence-based practice.
The British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth)
 Integrative CounsellingIntegrative therapy, or integrative counselling is a combined approach to psychotherapy that brings together different elements of specific therapies. Integrative therapists take the view that there is no single approach that can treat each client in all situations. Each person needs to be considered as a whole and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances.Integrative counselling maintains the idea that there are many ways in which human psychology can be explored and understood - no one theory holds the answer. All theories are considered to have value, even if their foundational principles contradict each other - hence the need to integrate them.The integrative approach also refers to the infusion of a person's personality and needs - integrating the effective, behavioural, cognitive, and physiological systems within one person, as well as addressing social and spiritual aspects. Essentially, integrative counsellors are not only concerned with what works, but why it works - tailoring therapy to their clients and not the client to the therapy.Courses & WorkshopsThe AOC design and also deliver bespoke creative training courses and workshops on a wide range of subjects for community groups, charities and for small or large organisations and we have over twenty years’ experience. Our courses and workshops are delivered either in house at your place or at our lovely building with large, modern group and conference rooms on the border of Sandwell and Dudley, in the heart of the West Midlands. However, we also provide training across the UK and internationally. Our creative, informative courses and workshops are highly interactive, using creative tools including dramatic play and exploration.You may find our range of courses and workshops more suited to your needs when tackling your phobia(s). Our courses that can help you with your phobias are based around mindfulness. The mindfulness course will teach you a range of relaxation techniques to again help you control your feeling around the phobia and in general. It will help you to relax more often leading you to be less wary of the phobia so it does not stop you living your life the way you would like.Once the course/workshop finishes The AOC also have a beautiful range of relaxation CD’s which can help again control your fears, help you to relax more by using breathing techniques and remind you of other techniques you learnt during the workshop which you can use at all times when you feel the Easy Breathingneed.You can find our relaxtion CD’s on our website at the following link: https://www.theaoc.org.uk/shop/ We have many more courses available to you, for more information visit our website at the following link: https://www.theaoc.org.uk/services/creative-self-development-training-services/ or for more information please email support@theaoc.org.ukTop Health Tips
  1. Don’t push it too far – If you are trying to overcome your fear and begin the get an overwhelming feeling of fear stop. You need to do it in ‘baby steps’ it is a gradual process.
  2. Realize that your fear can be overcome – Fear is a learned behaviour so it can be unlearned.
  3. Never be embarrassed – Billions of people worldwide have a fear and millions will share the same fear as you. You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable to share your fear.
  4. Find a distraction – Listening to music is always a good distraction.
  5. Try relaxation techniques – Try to breath correctly, listen to calming music while doing so.
  6. Write down what makes you anxious – Try to remember when you first felt the fear, this will help you to indicate the source of the phobia and fight it.
  7. Research – Learn more about your phobia, read more about it. See other people’s views, problems and compare. Look into counselling/therapy to help you to overcome the fear.