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Phobias are characterized by a marked excessive fear or anxiety of particular places, objects or situations. Approximately 10% of North Americans suffer from a diagnosis of at least one type of phobic disorder. Persons suffering from phobias experience profound and deeply disturbing feelings of anxiety, panic or dread when they approach or encounter the source of their fear. Examples of such fear sources are:

  • Objects: Bridges, metros/subways, spiders, snakes, knifes, needles, etc.
  • Situations: Flying, heights, large crowds, driving a vehicle, being at a party/social gatherings, receiving an injection, seeing blood, storms, water, etc.
  • Places: Shopping malls, doctor offices, airplanes, elevators, enclosed or open spaces, leaving the house, etc.

Persons with phobias understand that their fears are not logical or rational but they cannot do anything to stop them. Phobias present as mild annoyances all the way to severely disabling in extreme cases whereby work, school and interpersonal relationships are significantly negatively affected.

Psychological treatments for phobias are scientifically well-researched, well understood and shown to be highly effective. Some of the most successful approaches for treating phobias include Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Applied Behavioural Analysis and Therapy and Exposure Therapy. Theories from evolutionary psychological are also helpful in shedding light on the origins of phobias.

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