Phobia Counselling in London

Phobia Counselling in London

What is a Phobia?

Specific Phobia is a mental health condition characterised by a significant anxiety caused by exposure to a feared object and/or situation, which often leads to avoidance behaviours.

Excessive fears are very common in young children, but they are usually temporary and cause mild impairment, so they are regarded as appropriate for the stage of development. In these cases, the criteria for a diagnosis of specific phobia are not met.

The average age of specific phobia onset is 10 years old, but it ranges from seven to 11 years old.

DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association 2013) recognizes four subtypes of specific phobia, including animal (e.g., dogs, cats, cockroaches, snakes), natural environment (e.g., heights, water, storms), blood-injection-injury (e.g., injections, blood tests), and situational (e.g., enclosed spaces, driving, airplanes). A fifth category, 'other', includes such phobias as fear of choking or vomiting that do not fit into one of the four categories.

Signs of Phobias

A fear and a phobia are not the same, so it's important to know the difference. The American Psychiatric Association provides criteria for the diagnoses of specific phobia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM-V criteria for specific phobia are:

  • Unreasonable, Excessive Fear: The person exhibits excessive or unreasonable, persistent and intense fear triggered by a specific object or situation.
  • Immediate Anxiety Response: The fear reaction must be out of proportion to the actual danger and appears almost instantaneously when presented with the object and/or situation. Recognition the Fear Is Irrational Not Required: In previous DSM editions, adults with specific phobias had to recognise that their fears are out of proportion to reality, but children did not. The DSM-V edition now specifies that adult patients no longer have to recognise the irrationality of their behaviour to meet criteria for a diagnosis.
  • Avoidance or Extreme Distress: The individual goes out of their way to avoid the object or situation, or endures it with extreme distress.
  • Life-Limiting: The phobia significantly impacts the individual’s school, work, leisure activities and relationships.
  • Six Months Duration: In children and adults the duration of symptoms must last for a period of at least six months.
  • Not Caused by Another Disorder: Most anxiety disorders share similar signs and symptoms. Therefore, your psychologist must rule out other anxiety disorders before diagnosing a specific phobia.

Treatment for Specific Phobias in London

Research has shown that most effective treatment for Specific Phobias is Cognitive Behavioural therapy.

For more information about talking therapies and treatment programmes available at our Clinics in London please visit our Treatment page.

Getting Therapy for Phobias in London

We offer Psychological Therapies for Specific Phobias to Adults, Children and Teenagers at our clinics in Central London.


All our Therapists offer Psychological Therapies for Specific Phobias to Adults, Children and Teenagers. Click here to meet the Team.


Sessions with our Psychologists are by prepaid appointments only. You can find out more about our fees on our Fees Page.

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