Making Phobic Assessments

Indiana Jones’ fear of snakes was a nice bit of comic relief in the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie. While most people will admit to having at least some fear of things such as spiders, heights, or flying, the difference between a basic fear and a phobia is more pronounced.

With the help of a professional, those with phobias can identify the practices, thoughts, or situations that invite and maintain phobic anxiety. Treatment plans include clarifying the chain of experience, and working to manage one’s reaction to the stressor. Clients may be asked to honestly confront their behavior using the following guidelines:

  1. Listing symptoms of physiology, behavior, thoughts, and feelings
  2. Considering the maintaining factors that interfere with progress (avoidance, self-doubt, ongoing depression, any underlying fears of overcoming the phobia)
  3. Naming existing coping skills
  4. Inventorying resources (hobbies, friends, family, community, sources of pleasure and success)
  5. Assessing one’s suitability for treatment (any potential for noncompliance)
  6. Clarifying the measures of success

Most phobia cases do improve with treatment. PC&CC counselors are always available for consultation.

Information culled from Therapist’s Guide to Clinical Intervention by Sharon L. Johnson.