Therapy for individuals in Athens, Decatur, Madison, and Huntsville, AL

If you are suffering with a phobia, you consistently fear and avoid a person or a situation that leads you to do all you can to eliminate contact with the individual or thing that you fear. Should you be unable to avoid this contact, you will experience tension, stress and anxiety. You may very well recognize that your fear is unreasonable and that it doesn't make sense. That doesn't matter.

When you have a phobia, you do not feel like you are having the classic symptoms of a panic attack. You just feel like you cannot be around the situation, thing or person that leaves you feeling creepy, afraid and tense.

When you are in counseling, I will help you to describe the history of your phobia as well as the ways in which it negatively affects your life. If it appears that medication may be helpful, I will suggest that you discuss this with your health care provider. If you request it, I am pleased to communicate with your health care provider to share information regarding your psychotherapy.

Sometimes when people experience phobias, they refer to themselves as "really nuts." I can educate you about how common phobias are. We will also discuss the "phobic cycle" during which you stay away from the thing that makes you anxious and use that separation as justification for avoidance of "something really dangerous."

There is some excellent literature related to the topic of phobias. It is likely that I will suggest that you read some particular articles to increase understanding about your symptoms. I will also talk with you about "exposure therapy" during which you can very gradually learn to feel more comfortable around the thing or situation that previously left you feeling terrified. I will be with you during any time that we decide to use this approach. We will also review relaxation techniques like deep breathing and positive self-talk. I will teach you to replace your fear and distorted images with more reality-based information. You will also learn to understand that, even after successful counseling, you may occasionally lapse back to experiencing previous anxiety. This kind of lapse is normal and quite a different thing from a relapse which reflects your decision to return to your previous persistent fearful lifestyle. We will also talk about a possible secondary gain related to your phobia. You might think, for example, that "If I am afraid to drive a car, then there is no way that I can maintain employment....and my family will keep taking care of me." This is only one of many possible examples of secondary gain. Phobias are not necessarily associated with secondary gain. The secondary gain issue is just one of many possible explanations.

I may ask you to make a list of several ways in which your life could feel more satisfying and fulfilling as you become better able to continue your normal responsibilities without feelings of panic.

Once your counseling is over, we may decide that a "booster session" every few months will help you to maintain your progress.

Feel free to call me about more information about counseling for Phobias at 256-431-5060.

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