Fear is something we all experience, but when these fears develop into phobias, they can limit what we’re able to do and negatively impact many aspects of our lives. If you’re interested in overcoming a specific phobia, therapy can be an essential resource in achieving this goal. At The Center for CBT in New York City, our therapists utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help people uncover the core beliefs that drive specific phobias and begin overcoming their phobias. In this blog, we’ll discuss what specific phobias are and how CBT is beneficial in overcoming phobias.
What Are Specific Phobias?
Specific phobias are overwhelming fears directly related to certain people, places, things, or experiences. Exposure to these objects of fear can be extremely overwhelming, painful, or panic inducing. This causes people to avoid their phobias. While this may be possible in some situations, completely avoiding the things we fear isn’t always realistic. That’s why therapy can be beneficial.
How Does CBT Address Specific Phobias?
CBT was developed around the idea that our core beliefs may create distorted assumptions about ourselves, the world around us, and possible future outcomes. Specific phobias are a form of distorted assumption that cause individuals to be fearful in situations where fear is unwarranted. These distorted assumptions cause automatic negative thoughts. CBT helps individuals overcome specific phobias by recognizing their automatic negative thoughts and the distorted assumptions that underly them. Then, they can begin to address and process their core beliefs in order to change distorted thinking and alleviate automatic negative thoughts.
1 – Experience Safe Exposure
The specific process of using CBT to address specific phobias begins with safe exposure to the objects of fear. The therapist will guide you through gradual exposure. For example, if you’re fearful of public speaking, a therapist may recommend you first write a speech. Then, they may ask you to give the speech only to them. Perhaps, they’ll have you record yourself giving a speech and show the recording to a small group of loved ones. Over time, you may attempt giving a speech to small group before finally speaking to a larger crowd.
2 – Learn to Confront Negative Thinking Related to Fear
Before, during, and after each level of safe exposure, your therapist will ask you to talk about the thoughts you’re experiencing that make you feel afraid. As you discuss the automatic negative thoughts, you’ll begin to challenge your underlying assumptions. Then, you’ll dig deeper into the core beliefs that create these distorted assumptions.
3 – Gradually Change Response to the Feared Object
By understanding your problematic core beliefs and distorted assumptions, you can work together with your therapist to change these assumptions and adjust your underlying beliefs. This will gradually decrease your fear response.
Interested in Learning More?
Specific phobias develop for a wide range of reasons, but there is hope to overcome these fears and reclaim the parts of your life that have been limited by them. When you’re ready to get started with therapy to overcome specific phobias, the therapists at The Center for CBT in New York City are here for you. Feel free to get in touch with us over the phone at (917) 596-8955 or complete our online scheduling request form.