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Sunday, January 10, 2010

CBT Improves Bravery In Facing Childhood Phobias

by Dr. Craig April, Director of The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

CBT improves bravery in facing long-held childhood phobias.

What childhood phobias do you still struggle with, if any? Fear has a way of holding on the more you continue to avoid. For example, adults with Dark Phobia (fear of the dark) is more common than you would think.


Any phobia can occur at any age. There are two main ways a phobia develops:

1.) You had a frightening experience where you felt threatened, followed by your avoidance of that now "scary" stimuli due to its association with danger/fear.


2.) You observe someone else with a phobia which you then follow with avoidance of that stimuli.

When does observation have the greatest impact?

You guessed it! In our childhoods. Modeling is the most powerful teacher in childhood. When models (primarily parents) struggle with anxiety and phobias and then avoid facing their fear, children can be greatly impacted through observation alone. Fear of an object, situation or event is then encouraged through observation.

Some parents also teach a child, based on their own fears, to directly avoid what the parent is afraid of. I have seen countless examples of adults in my center who were taught by their parents early on to avoid, for example, flying, dogs, the number 13, etc. And what happened based on this teaching? The creation of fear of flying, dog phobia, 13 phobia, and more.


Take a moment to take stock of fears you've maintained throughout your life. Are they truly yours based on individual direct experience or are they inherited areas of anxiety?

Either way, to live a life of freedom, greater calm and confidence, help is needed. However, the answer to the above question can help you take responsibility and can be a first step in facing a phobia. If you have an inherited area of anxiety, then accept responsibility now and choose to get past it. If it is your own phobia based on individual experience, then you must also accept responsibility and choose to get past this. As adults, we are all responsible for how we respond now - whether we have inherited fear or not.


CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy) addresses unhealthy thinking and behavioral patterns that increase anxiety by teaching strategies to modify both. During anxiety treatment, fear is shown to be a function of false beliefs that lead to anxiety. These beliefs can be modified, thereby increasing bravery and diminishing the hold fear has with regard to anxiety symptoms.

The behavior therapy component of CBT leads to desensitization of a phobia or fear by teaching strategies while helping one gradually face their fear. Anyone can learn to use the proper strategies in order to decrease their anxiety. This is part of what makes anxiety disorders so treatable.

What fear have you been carrying around with you?

Follow this link for more on CBT and phobias

All the best,


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