There are a lot of treatments for phobias, both typical phobias and more uncommon phobias. Exposure therapy is a very common method of treating phobias, specifically phobias that center around one thing or one situation. Phobias commonly treated with exposure therapy include arachnophobia (fear of spiders), most other animal or insect fears, glossophobia (fear of public speaking), and other social anxiety phobias. But exposure therapy can be both impractical and terrifying. Therapists have to actually acquire spiders, for example, or drag a terrified patient up to the podium to speak. However, virtual reality goggles are allowing for a new type of exposure therapy that is more practical and allows for the patients to take even smaller baby steps (Prevention). Many patients who have encountered their fear in the virtual reality are then able to face their fear in real life. However, virtual reality based exposure therapy is still new and in the testing phase.
Another new treatment for phobias is scented nap therapy (Sanders). In this therapy, patients experience a smell while they are asleep that is in someway tied to their fear. In this way, the patients learn to associate the fear with calm and peace. Scented nap therapy is a form of classical conditioning therapy in which patients work to form a new positive association with a fear, but, again, scented nap therapy is new and in the testing phase. Moreover, the therapy is currently limited to fears with a smell attached to them which means that people with glossophobia or arachnophobia would be unable to receive this therapy as there is no scent associated with public speaking, spiders, or many other things or actions that cause phobias.
Hypnosis, on the other hand, has been around for centuries (Kanigel). This therapy works with almost any fear and has the goal of allowing people to experience and overcome their fear within their own subconscious. However, only about 60% of the population is susceptible to hypnosis which limits who can benefit from the therapy. Moreover, there are many people who are skeptical of hypnosis from representations in the media that portray it as some kind of magic trick. But many patients have overcome significant phobias through hypnosis. In one case, hypnosis was used to treat a woman with agoraphobia (fear of being trapped) who was unable to go more than ten miles away from her home, due to the fear that she would become stuck in traffic or in a crowd of people. She turned to hypnosis as a last resort to allow her to travel four hundred miles to see her son graduate from college. After many sessions, she felt comfortable with the idea of making the trip. That May, she was able to see her son walk across the stage to receive his diploma. She is quick to point out that she is by no means cured of her agoraphobia–few people with phobias ever are cured–but that she now has new ways to control her fear which has allowed her to live a more full life.
Works Cited–Now Comment Blog
Kanigel, Rachele. “Mind over everything: hypnosis is no panacea–but it can help alleviate physical pain as well as phobia-induced stress and anxiety.” Natural Health, Mar. 2007, p. 86+. Student Edition, https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A159280253/STOM?u=onlinelibrary&sid=STOM&xid=5ea93857. Accessed 26 Mar. 2019.
“Virtual cure for big fears.” Prevention, May 2004, p. 46. Student Edition, https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A118816093/STOM?u=onlinelibrary&sid=STOM&xid=40cdfd67. Accessed 26 Mar. 2019.
Sanders, Laura. “Scented naps can dissipate fears: people unlearned scary odor if they smelled it in their sleep.” Science News, 19 Oct. 2013, p. 8. Student Edition, https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A349488069/STOM?u=onlinelibrary&sid=STOM&xid=ffe92fcd. Accessed 26 Mar. 2019.