Phobias Therapy Essex

Being fearful of a particular object or situation is completely natural. But sometimes these fears become much more intense, lasting for a long time and causing significant stress and anxiety. These extreme fears are called phobias.

Therapy For You offers a range of mental health treatments to help you manage the phobias affecting your wellbeing. Our psychoeducational therapy courses can help you identify connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and develop practical ways to manage and overcome your phobias, including exposure therapy.

Get in touch today to discuss how we can help you feel better.

1-1 Therapy

Speak about what’s troubling you face-to-face with a qualified, supportive therapist – in the comfort and security of a private, confidential setting. Here you can openly discuss your feelings, experiences and symptoms, working one-on-one with your therapist to identify beneficial techniques and skills tailored to your specific circumstances.

One to one counselling therapy service information
Group Therapy

Explore your emotions and develop lifelong techniques, surrounded by people who share the same challenges as you. Our safe, confidential group therapy sessions are led by qualified mental health professionals that get you talking about your thoughts and feelings with peers who understand your situation. Together, take significant steps to feeling better.

Essex group therapy sessions for mental health
Video Therapy

If you cannot attend regular therapy in person, we can bring a qualified therapist to you through our dedicated video calls. Speaking with your therapist on camera at a time and place that suits you, you can openly discuss any issues that are causing you distress or making you feel uncomfortable. You’ll learn new techniques to help you overcome your problems and start you on your path to feeling better.

Remote video call mental health support information
Phone Therapy

If you have a busy family life, mobility issues or other barriers to getting out and about, we can make sure you still have access to the support you need through phone therapy. We arrange calls between you and a qualified therapist throughout the day, meaning you can always access mental health guidance and support at a time and place that’s convenient for you.

Over the phone therapy service information
ieso Typed Therapy

Mental health support that’s there when you need it. When you can’t find a voice to express how you feel, typed therapy by ieso enables you to text your fully qualified therapist at any place and time. Based on proven CBT techniques, you can discuss your concerns in a safe, private and relaxed way, maintaining a record of conversations you can always revisit to support your recovery.

Delivered by ieso
ieso typed therapy information and referrals

Who can access phobias support in Essex?

Therapy For You’s free mental health services are accessible in our North East and South East Essex catchment areas. If you are registered with a GP in the Colchester, Tendring, Southend, Castle Point and Rochford regions, we are ready to help you.

North East Essex mental health services map of areas covered including Colchester, Harwich, Mersea and Clacton

Mental health services in North East Essex

Here are the areas and postcodes covered by our mental health services, available for anyone aged 16 or over.

  • Clacton-on-Sea
  • Colchester
  • Frinton-on-Sea
  • Harwich
  • Manningtree
  • Tendring
  • Walton-on-the-Naze
  • West Mersea

What are phobias and why do we have them?

A phobia is an anxiety disorder where you feel an excessive amount of fear towards a certain object, animal, situation or activity. These are typically split into two key categories – specific phobias and complex phobias.

Sometimes referred to as irrational fears, people with phobias often change their behaviours and lifestyles to avoid encountering the things they fear. This could be the result of a traumatic experience, anxieties inherited from your parents or friends, or simply seeing or reading about bad experiences associated with your fears.

Like other anxiety or panic disorders, our reaction to phobias is a result of the “flight, fight or freeze” response – the involuntary physiological changes that happen to our bodies and minds when we feel threatened.

What is a specific phobia?

A specific phobia, also known as a simple phobia, is a phobia of a particular object, event or situation, and often develops during childhood or adolescence. Common types of specific phobia include:

  • Animal phobias (snakes, spiders, insects, etc.)
  • Natural phobias (deep water, heights, germs, etc.)
  • Situational phobias (flying, confined spaces, going to the dentist, etc.)
  • Medical phobias (needles, blood, vomit, etc.)
  • Sexual phobias (intimacy, touching, nudity, etc.)

The impact of specific phobias can be very minimal if you don’t come into contact with them often, or severe depending on the strength of your fear.

What is a complex phobia?

Complex phobias are phobias that often have a more disruptive or overwhelming influence on someone’s life than specific phobias, and are more likely to develop during adulthood. Two of the most common examples of this are social phobia and agoraphobia.

Social phobia, also known as social anxiety, is an overwhelming fear of social situations, such as:

  • Starting conversations
  • Group hangouts
  • Public speaking
  • Talking on the phone
  • Meeting new people

Agoraphobia is a fear of open or crowded spaces, leaving the home, or being in places that might lead you to feel trapped, helpless, or difficult to escape from.

Depending on the severity of your complex phobia, it can have a serious impact on the way you live your life, keeping you from many positive activities and experiences.

How common are phobias in the UK statistics from various sources

Fundamentally, if you are struggling with a phobia of any kind, you are not alone – and you don’t have to deal with it alone either. Explore our range of talking therapies to gain powerful techniques and coping strategies that reduce the influence phobias have over your life.

What causes phobias?

Phobias and fear triggers develop in several ways, and the reasons behind your particular phobias will be unique to you. It may be the result of one traumatic incident, or a combination of factors.

Some of the most common causes for phobias include:

  • Past incidents or trauma, such as being injured by an animal or experiencing heavy turbulence on a plane
  • Learned responses from childhood, such as “inheriting” phobias from your parents or other relatives, or being around people who struggled with anxiety
  • Suffering a panic attack, which may cause you to relate this experience with the objects, situation or other elements associated with this event
  • Second-hand experiences, such as seeing news stories about an unfortunate incident or developing fears based on the subjects of horror movies
  • Long-term stress, which can hurt your ability to cope with certain situations, making you fearful about encountering them again
  • Genetics, as research suggests that certain people are more susceptible to developing phobias than others

Through our free treatment pathways, including one-to-one mental health support and a range of remote counselling options, we can help you identify the root cause of your phobias, putting you in a better position to address and overcome them.

Do I have a phobia?

Phobias feel different for everyone – there is no universal reaction, and your response to your fears may be more severe or draining than others. Often, how you feel will line up with your own physical symptoms of anxiety.

  • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded or faint?
  • Experiencing a choking sensation or shortness of breath?
  • A faster heart rate or palpitations?
  • Pain or tightness in your chest?
  • Sweating and hot/cold flushes?
  • Feeling nauseous?
  • Feeling numb or tingling in your fingers/toes?
  • Trembling or shaking?
  • Dryness in your mouth?
  • Hearing a ringing in your ears?
  • Feeling generally confused or disoriented?

You may notice you experience one or several of the symptoms listed above in response to certain objects, circumstances and more. Your phobias may also have a number of psychological or emotional effects, including:

  • Feeling out of control
  • Increased stress
  • Embarrassment
  • Feeling out of touch with reality or your own body (dissociation)
  • Depression or low mood

These reactions and responses can greatly limit what you feel able to do, causing significant, ongoing distress. If this applies to you, it may be time to reach out to someone or start treatment to better manage your phobias.

How can therapy help me treat and overcome my phobias?

If you find it impossible to regularly avoid your phobias, or they are causing you lasting distress, there are numerous treatment options that can help you understand the source of your anxiety and better cope with your fears day to day.

One of the most effective ways to treat phobias is through therapy, which has a long, successful history of helping people develop healthier relationships with their irrational fears.

What is phobia therapy?

Phobia therapy, also known as talking therapies or talking treatments, involves working with a qualified therapist to understand the causes of your phobias. Together, you will then develop practical therapeutic techniques and relaxation exercises to help improve your experiences with your fears in the future.

There are several types of talking treatments for your phobias, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for phobias?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that focuses on improving your emotional wellbeing by changing the way you think and behave.

Our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all interconnected. If you have negative thoughts towards a particular object or situation, this will typically lead to avoidance behaviours and feelings of anxiety. This creates vicious cycles of negative thinking that continually harm your mental wellbeing.

CBT teaches you to challenge your negative thoughts and change your unhelpful behaviours, so you can develop patterns that help you feel more comfortable around your phobias. Over time, these new habits replace the old bad habits you have formed, leading to a better relationship with your phobias.

In CBT for phobias in particular, part of these exercises may involve gradually exposing you to your fears to lessen your anxiety towards them. This is known as exposure therapy.

What is exposure therapy?

Exposure therapy is an exercise where you are gradually exposed to the objects or situations you fear, so you become more comfortable around them over time.

For example, if you are afraid of spiders, your exposure therapy may start with reading books about spiders, or looking at photos of them. You may then be taken to a zoo or a similar place to see some real spiders, before the final step of holding one in your hands.

This approach can apply to all types of phobias, including social anxiety or agoraphobia, gradually increasing the level of exposure to help you gain control over your emotions. Going step by step at your own pace, this approach is highly effective in reducing people’s anxieties.

At Therapy For You, we utilise virtual reality headsets from Amelia Virtual Care as part of our exposure therapy treatments. These allow you to become more comfortable with your fears in a controlled, safe space before you then proceed to real-life scenarios – something we find really benefits our patient’s long-term progress.

The benefits of using exposure therapy for phobias and reducing fears

What is counselling for phobias?

Counselling is where you are encouraged to speak about your phobias and feelings with a trained therapist. They will listen to you and ask questions to better understand the reasons behind your fears, all without any criticism or judgement.

This approach can help you gain a clear understanding of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, so you can determine your own solutions to overcome your phobias.

At Therapy For You, we can offer counselling and other forms of phobia therapy face-to-face, in support group sessions, or through a range of remote options, including phone therapy, video calls and typed therapy from ieso.

Can I continue with my daily activities while undergoing phobia therapy?

Yes, you should be able to continue with your day-to-day activities during phobia therapy. In fact, as your treatment progresses, you should find that your encounters with objects, situations and other triggers affect your mood less and less.

Are there any side effects of phobia therapy?

Generally, phobia therapy does not have any side effects. Short term, you may experience increased levels of anxiety as you progress through each step of your exposure therapy. However, as you grow in confidence through these exposures, your anxiety should naturally reduce.

Can I get therapy for phobias online or through teletherapy?

Yes. At Therapy For You, we understand that busy schedules and personal circumstances can make attending therapy in person harder. Furthermore, certain phobias such as agoraphobia may make you feel uncomfortable about coming to face-to-face sessions.

With this in mind, we make our treatment pathways as accessible as possible so that you can access the support you need however best suits you. These include:

What should I look for in a therapist for phobia treatment?

When seeking a therapist for your phobia treatment, you should prioritise someone with experience and specialist training in treating phobias specifically, including exposure therapy.

At Therapy For You, our therapists are more than happy to discuss their credentials and approach to treatment to give you complete peace of mind.

Is talking therapy the only effective phobia treatment?

While talking therapy is one of the most effective treatments for phobias, it is not your only option. Sometimes, another treatment or a combination of treatments will produce the best outcomes.

Medication for phobias

While not used to treat phobias themselves, medication may be prescribed to treat the effects of your phobias, such as anxiety or low mood. Common types of medication used for these anxiety disorders include:

  • Antidepressants, most often selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Tranquilisers for short-term anxiety relief

Beta blockers to help reduce some symptoms of anxiety, such as heart palpitations

Hypnotherapy for phobias

Hypnosis may help change your unwanted thoughts and behaviours towards your phobias, reducing their influence on you through suggestion and increasing self-awareness. However, not everyone is susceptible to hypnotherapy, and it is usually not available through the NHS, meaning there will be costs involved.

Self-help for phobias

In addition to these alternative phobia treatments, there are a number of self-help techniques that can help reduce your feelings of fear and anxiety:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Getting good quality sleep
  • Reducing caffeine intake
  • Reducing alcohol and drug use

If you are unsure of which treatment is right for you, or a previous treatment hasn’t been effective, speak to your GP for advice.

Do you need help overcoming your phobias?

Phobias, fears and anxieties can have a massive influence on how we think, feel and behave every day. If you are struggling with a phobia that is constantly affecting your mood and causing you to miss out on experiences and opportunities, we are here to help you better manage your fears now and in the future.

At Therapy For You, we are the NHS Talking Therapies service for North East and South East Essex. Through our free, easy-to-access treatment pathways, we can help you get to the root of your phobias, and teach you powerful techniques and relaxation exercises to reduce their impact on you day to day.

Start your journey to overcoming your phobias and a more stress-free future today – get in touch with our team to learn more.

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