4 Steps to Mastering Your Fears and Phobias

By Todd Farchione, PhD, Research Assistant Professor at Boston University and the Director of the Intensive Treatment Program at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University

Posted on | By Todd Farchione, PhD | Comments ()

We all experience fear. It’s a natural emotion that’s essential for our survival. Fear, and the emotional part of the brain from which it originates, is designed to protect us from danger. But even good emotions can sometimes go bad or run a little wild.

For some, fear occurs more frequently or intensely than it should, or it happens in situations where it’s less adaptive or just doesn’t seem to make sense. In some cases, fears can become problematic and even interfere with a person’s ability to live the life they most desire.

The treatment of choice for mastering fears and phobias is exposure. Exposure treatment can occur in different ways, and may be supplemented with other therapeutic techniques, but it always involves some level of prolonged confrontation with the feared object or situation. There’s some debate on why exposure treatment works, but what we do know from all of the research that’s been done is that it does work. It may take some time, but ultimately the fear will diminish. In accordance with this approach, here are 4 key steps you can use to face your fears:

1. Develop a “Fear Ladder”

Planning how you’re going to face the situation or object you’re afraid of, and that you’ve most likely been avoiding, is an important first step in overcoming your fears. Start by thinking about what you’re currently avoiding because of your fear and how much distress you might experience if you were to confront these situations.

Article written by Todd Farchione, PhD
Research Assistant Professor at Boston University and the Director of the Intensive Treatment Program at the Center for Anxiety...