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The Use of Psychotherapy for Phobias

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 19 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Psychotherapy; Cognitive Behavioural

With a title more frightening than it deserves psychotherapy is an extremely effective way of treating many psychological problems. Unlike medications it doesn’t seek to manage signs and symptoms, but aims to understand the origins of the problem, thought processes, memories, attitudes and beliefs, and bring about positive changes that lessen the importance of the phobia and the ways in which we react to situations.

Types of Psychotherapy
There are different types of psychotherapy and the therapist and client will work together to decide which is going to be the most appropriate choice of treatment. The therapist will make an assessment of the individual using the information given and will discuss the options with the client explaining which methods work best for differing types of situations.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Sometimes known as simply cognitive therapy, this therapy links thoughts to reactions and aims to understand the relationship between these two issues. Once the current cycle has been witnessed and understood, work can be done to try and break this chain and put in place new ways of interpreting the situation using more positive responses to the circumstance. New thought processes are learned and more realistic coping mechanisms are practiced until they become the normal reaction to the stimulus.

Behavioural Therapy
This type of therapy aims to change or alter the current patterns of behaviour. Fears and anxieties are overcome by gentle and repeated exposure to the phobia, and new ways of managing that stress are learned. Clients may be given exercises and tasks to perform at home to be discussed with the therapist at the next visit. Control and management are the keys to succeeding using this type of therapy.

Psychodrama involves the therapist and client working together to re-enact scenes or memories that cause an anxiety response. The client can then visualise and verbalise the content of their fear and may be better able to see it in a more realistic way. If performed in a group setting feedback and participation from others may help to gain clarity and realism to the situation and discourage negative and distorted thoughts.

Who Is A Psychotherapist?
Although most practising psychotherapist are from a mental health background, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse, in reality a psychotherapist does not necessarily need any formal qualification to be able to carry this title meaning thorough research of the therapist should be carried out to ensure a true professional is used who employs proved and practised techniques that have achieved success for others.

The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy will be able to provide a list of name sand contact details of approved local therapists and may also be able to provide some background details also.

Sessions normally cost £25-£80 depending on the location, qualification and expertise of the therapist, and sessions can last between 1 and 2 hours.

Not all GP’s can offer a referral to a psychotherapist, in which case a private appointment will be needed.Using one or a combination of the therapies, psychotherapy can be a very successful method of treating phobias.

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