Specific Phobia (SP) is a common psychiatric problem that varies considerably in theme from person to person. Common examples include a fear of heights (i.e., acrophobia), enclosed spaces (i.e., claustrophobia), flying (i.e., aviophobia), dentists (i.e., dentophobia), animals (e.g., cynophobia – dogs), insects (e.g., arachnophobia – spiders), needles and injections (i.e., trypanophobia), water (i.e., aquaphobia), vomiting (i.e., emetophobia), and crossing bridges (i.e., gephyrophobia).
As seen with other anxiety disorders, SP is typically accompanied by a host of avoidance behaviors. For example, individuals with claustrophobia may avoid elevators and take stairs instead. Individuals with a fear of flying may skip an important family wedding across country. Those with a fear of needles may avoid doctors altogether.
Many people are scared of objects or situations. However, individuals with SP present with a distressing and impairing pattern of fear when confronted with the feared object or situation, or exhibit avoidance behavior that significantly hampers quality of life and functioning.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the gold-standard psychological treatment for SP. It consists of psycho-education, exposure exercises, cognitive restructuring, and more. CBT can work for the full range of different phobias.