Running scared - Enquiries for phobia counselling grow 83% in the four months leading up to Face your Fears week

What is a phobia?

The term phobia refers to a strong feeling of fear or dread towards something that is out of proportion to the reality of the situation. Different types of phobias include the following:

  • social anxiety disorder (fear of social situations and interacting with others)
  • agoraphobia (fear of being in a situation that is viewed as difficult to escape from)
  • specific phobia (fear of a specific animal/object/situation).

Katherine Nicholls, content writer at Counselling Directory explains how claustrophobia impacts her life:

"While my claustrophobia doesn't cause me distress day-to-day, there are many situations where it makes simple tasks difficult. One example of this would be my fear of lifts - I avoid them at all costs but sometimes they simply cannot be avoided. Face your Fears Week is a great opportunity for everyone with a phobia (including myself) to finally conquer it."

Treatment options

In the four months leading up to Face your Fears Week, interest in counselling as a form of treatment for phobias increased by 83%1. A recent poll on Counselling Directory also revealed that 73% of people seeking treatment for a phobia would consider counselling2. Talking therapies such as counselling, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are all recommended by the NHS to help those seeking help with phobias. Other treatment options include medication and desensitisation.

In general, medication is used to treat the anxiety related symptoms only and rarely cures a phobia on its own. Desensitisation is a form of behavioural therapy that gradually exposes the sufferer to their phobia to help them feel less anxious over time. Desensitisation combined with counselling or CBT is considered an effective combination and indeed, for most people, it is a combination of treatments that proves the most helpful.

How can cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) help?

Designed to change certain thoughts and behaviours, CBT is a therapy used by counsellors to tackle two phobic habits at once. First of all it helps the sufferer understand their own way of thinking better, which can help uncover harmful or unhelpful thought patterns related to the phobia. Next the therapy addresses behaviour, looking to alter physical and mental reactions to the phobia. Together this form of therapy aims to correct irrational feelings of fear to help the sufferer cope with the phobia, or ideally overcome the phobia entirely.

About Counselling Directory

Counselling Directory was launched in 2005 and has since become a leading online directory of professional counsellors, ranking highly in search engines and receiving an average of almost 400,000 visitors per month. Recognising the need for more informative directories in this area, Counselling Directory goes the extra mile by collating all the information you could need when searching for professional help in your area. Not only does the directory list in-depth information about listed counsellors and the way they work, but also includes helpful fact-sheets, useful articles written by counsellors and local workshops/events.


  • 183% figure based on the number of searches carried out from June to September using the term ‘phobia’.
  • 2Poll based on responses from 124 visitors to the site from 11th-21st October.
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Written by Katherine Nicholls

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