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A phobia (from the Greek: φόβος, Phóbos, meaning "fear" or "morbid fear") is, when used in the context of clinical psychology, a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational. In the event the phobia cannot be avoided entirely, the sufferer will endure the situation or object with marked distress and significant interference in social or occupational activities.
As briefly mentioned above, a specific phobia is a marked and persistent fear of an object or situation which brings about an excessive or unreasonable fear when in the presence of, or anticipating, a specific object; furthermore, the specific phobias may also include concerns with losing control, panicking, and fainting which is the direct result of an encounter with the phobia.The important distinction from social phobias are specific phobias are defined in regards to objects or situations whereas social phobias emphasizes more on social fear and the evaluations that might accompany them.
The DSM breaks specific phobias into five subtypes: Animal, Natural Environment, Blood-Injection-Injury, Situational, and Other. In children, phobias involving Animals, Natural Environment (darkness), and Blood-Injection-Injury usually develop between the ages of 7 and 9, and these
are reflective of normal development. Additionally, specific phobias are most prevalent in children between ages 10 and 13.
Various methods are claimed to treat phobias. Their proposed benefits may vary from person to person.
Some therapists use virtual reality or imagery exercise to desensitize patients to the feared entity. These are parts of systematic desensitization therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial. Cognitive behavioral therapy allows the patient to challenge dysfunctional thoughts or beliefs by being mindful of their own feelings with the aim that the patient will realize their fear is irrational. CBT may be conducted in a group setting. Gradual desensitisation treatment and CBT are often successful, provided the patient is willing to endure some discomfort. In one clinical trial, 90% of patients were observed with no longer having a phobic reaction after successful CBT treatment.
CBT is also an effective treatment for phobias in children and adolescents, and it has been adapted to be appropriate for use with this age. One example of a CBT program targeted towards children is the Coping Cat. This treatment program can be used with children between the ages of 7 and 13 to treat social phobia. This program works to decrease negative thinking, increase problem solving, and to provide a functional coping outlook in the child. Another CBT program was developed by Ann Marie Albano to treat social phobia in adolescents. This program has five stages: Psychoeducation, Skill Building, Problem Solving, Exposure, and Generalization and Maintenance. Psycho education focuses on identifying and understanding symptoms. Skill Building focuses on learning cognitive restructuring, social skills, and problem solving skills. Problem Solving focuses on identifying problems and using a proactive approach to solving them. Exposure involves exposing the adolescent to social situations in a hierarchical approach. Finally, Generalization and Maintenance involves practicing the skills learned.
Wikipedia contributors. "Phobia." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 Nov. 2012. Web. 23 Nov. 2012.
Fears that become excessive or irrational are characterized as phobias. Dr. Victor Fornari, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at North Shore-LIJ Health System, specializes in treatment of phobias through cognitive behavioral therapy.
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