The experience of anxiety can be understood, in some cases, as a signal and reaction to a danger, whether in a perceived threat from within the mind itself of the individual or a perceived threat in the external world. The anticipatory anxiety from an external sense of threat can help you to prepare yourself to ‘fight or flight’ from the situation that produces the sense of danger and threat.
In the case of an internal sense of threat, from thoughts or emotions that come from within the mind itself that feel overwhelming to the individual, the ability to respond to this internal sense of threat becomes a more complex and problematic situation. With this sense of threat, the individual feels the need to defend him or herself against these thought and emotions in order to reduce the feeling of anxiety that it produces within them. One of these defensive strategies that the individual can sometimes take to reduce this overwhelming anxiety is to produce what is known as a phobia.
What is a Phobia?
Phobia can be defined as an extreme fear of a particular object, such a particular animals like spiders or snakes, or a particular situation, such as leaving home or being in crowded places. Those who suffer from a phobia experience severe and overwhelming anxiety if they encounter the phobic object or are in the feared situation. As a consequence, the individual develop strategies in order to avoid the object or situations so to prevent the overwhelming experience of anxiety from occurring. In some cases, these strategies may become so elaborate that the individuals’ life becomes severely restricted and can be the cause of a great amount of suffering.
The Types of Phobias
Specific phobias have been classified into four major subtypes, with a fifth category that do not fit into the other four subtypes.
- Situational Phobias
- Blood-Injection Injury Phobias
- Natural Environmental Phobias
- Animal Phobias
- Other Phobias
Although the function of a phobia can be seen in general terms as a way of limiting or avoiding the overwhelming experience of anxiety that the phobic object or situation produces, the underlying question of the severe anxiety that the phobia protects the individual is one that needs to be explored within the psychotherapeutic process.
How Counselling and Psychotherapy Can Help
Although the classifications of the different subtypes of phobia can be helpful to help place a phobia in a specific category, what is more important in the psychotherapeutic treatment of phobia is to speak about how and why, in your specific circumstance and in your unique history, the formation of the phobia came to be. Counselling and psychotherapy can help you to come to terms with and to work through all the sources of anxiety that the phobia has been established to protect you from.
If you or someone you know may be having difficulties with anxiety or phobias, please contact Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy via the contact details below.
Phobia Counselling Melbourne
Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy