It’s estimated that 9.1% of Americans have a specific phobia, with many having more than one. Whether it’s a fear of spiders, heights, or crowded spaces, many people may go throughout life enduring their phobia and the anxiety that accompanies it — with some even going as far as to go out of their way to avoid their fears on a regular basis.
However, it’s important to know that working towards a goal in reducing your fear is totally possible, and it can be achieved in a variety of different ways:
Facing your fear in different ways
Taking things into your own hands by properly educating yourself on your fears can be a progressive way to confront your phobia, depending on the situation. For instance, for those who may have a fear related to swimming, you can get acquainted with your phobia by enrolling yourself in swimming lessons and/or a water safety class, which may help in a number of ways.
Simply learning how to swim and getting educated on vital water safety (like the importance of wearing life jackets or using the buddy system while swimming) can not only work to increase your safety in the water by reducing the risk of drowning, but it can also help you to gain confidence in facing your fears and knowing that you have the skills to stay safe.
Learning how to swim through organized lessons can also ease your mind and help you to become more comfortable with a water phobia, so long as a professional or trusted individual is present during your lessons.
Exposure therapy can help
In addition to taking action and understanding your fear on your own, another way that many people may choose to work towards overcoming their fears is exposure therapy. Generally executed by a professional therapist, one of the most known forms of exposure therapy involves introducing the patient to their fears in person (also known as “in vivo”).
The goal is for them to overcome their fears and get more comfortable with the phobia over time.
There are other kinds of exposure therapy as well, such as exposure therapy via virtual reality, which works to recreate a visual sense of the phobia in a controlled setting, or imaginal exposure therapy, in which the therapist asks the patient to imagine their phobia occurring.
Prolonged exposure therapy, however, involves several elements — including talking therapy, learning helpful breathing techniques, and education on the symptoms, in addition to in-person (or in vivo) exposure to the phobia itself. However, the right path for someone highly varies depending on the individual.
Having a phobia can be a stressful and daunting matter to deal with, and can often lead to people avoiding their fears for years. However, for those looking to overcome a phobia, doing so through education or exposure therapy can help.