Phobia Therapy

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Phobias affect an estimated 10 million people in the UK alone. Phobias from fear of flying to fear of public speaking or fear of needles. We can be phobic to anything but heights, social situations and needles top the list.

What is a phobia?

A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear or aversion to something. Examples include spiders, confined spaces, or loneliness. People who are phobic of something might use avoidance of it as a management tactic. For this reason many phobias are not reported as a person can live a normal life avoiding their specific phobia.

Unfortunately, some phobias can cause more difficulties than others. If someone has a fear of flying, they may avoid flying limiting their travel options. Fear of needles can lead to an avoidance of needles making vaccination difficult and problematic especially in times of a pandemic.

What are the top 10 phobias in the UK

  • Heights
  • Needles
  • Social Situations
  • Spiders
  • Dogs
  • Flying
  • Medical
  • Teeth
  • Public speaking
  • Confined spaces

Phobia Symptoms

If you are phobic to something you will have an adverse reaction when you come into contact with it. Reactions vary but usually come under the category of panic attacks.

They might include:

  • Racing heart
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Diziness
  • Extremely high anxiety
  • Somatic shaking
  • Dry mouth

Simple and Complex Phobias

Phobias might be categorised into two main groups. Simple and complex phobias. Simple phobias are often experienced in childhood. A typical example is going to the dentist. We have a painful or difficult experience and develop an aversion to seeing the dentist. When we grow older although we might experience anxiety in relation to a trip to the dentist and we do not look forward to going to the dentist it is manageable and does not stop us seeking treatment.

Complex phobias are phobias which might cause us to have an intense reaction to a situation or object. Reactions are intense and affect us physically and mentally. It might have started with a specific trauma or traumas in childhood which does not leave us in adulthood.

How are phobias treated?

Phobias are usually treated with medication and or therapy. Medications might include  anti-anxiety medications, beta-blockers or benzodiazepines. Phobias are also treated by way of therapeutic intervention. Therapeutic intervention might involve counselling, psychotherapy, EMDR and or exposure therapy.

What help do we offer for phobias?

We offer an integrated approach to phobias. Our main approach is EMDR for phobias. EMDR is an acronym which stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy. Phobias usually begin with a traumatic experience from the past which is carried into the present. EMDR has a past, present and future focus. We help you process difficulties from the past, and process current difficulties and create a positive future template in relation to possible future experiences.

We also use exposure therapy as part of our approach within the context of a strong psychotherapeutic relationship.

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Page Content Focus

What is a phobia?

Top 10 phobias

Simple & complex phobias

How are phobias treated?

What help can we offer for phobias?


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Phobia Therapy

Available in Hertfordshire & London

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Phobias FAQ

Phobias are often caused by trauma or traumas. For example if you had a traumatic experience in relation to a particular environment you might experience an aversion to being in such an environment. e.g. Nearly drowning in a pool might give you an aversion to swimming, swimming pools or both. 

PTSD difficulties cover a wealth of different symptoms. Post trauma symptoms might include anxiety and panic disorder which are physiologically the same as symptoms someone might experience who has a phobia. In the aftermath of trauma we may have increased risk of developing a phobia often related to the original trauma. 

Phobias can manifest in people as a direct result of trauma. If you have a history of anxiety related disorder within your family you may have a higher propensity of developing a phobia. 

Therapies for Phobias

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We use psychotherapy to help with phobias which are complex to help you explore their impact and origins. 

We work within a psychotherapeutic framework when helping with phobias. Phobias can be triggered by a traumatic experience and are a sign that trauma from the past is affecting you in the present. As part of phobia therapy we might use gentle controlled exposure to help desensitise you. It is important that this is carried out in a safe therapeutic environment.

EMDR Therapy


We use EMDR to help you process the root cause of phobias and prepare you for future experiences related to your phobia.  

EMDR is a somatic psychotherapy to help us process difficulties from the past so that we are able to live in the present without the influnce of historical trauma. If a phobia has its roots in trauma, processing the trauma can help mitigate phobia symptoms in the present. It also helps us to process current and future experiences of a phobia.

Phobia Therapy Benefits

Feel happier

Living a life free from a phobia enables you to feel happier within yourself because you can connect to yourself and others without having to worry about your phobia. 


Living with a phobia can cause us to restrict our behaviours to avoid situations. Therapy can help you to live free from restrictive or avoident behaviour.   


When we overcome a difficulty in life it breeds confidence within self. Feel more confident living a life free from your phobia.  

Phobia Therapy FAQ

How long will therapy last?

Everybody is different with regard to how long therapy lasts. If your phobia is caused by a single event trauma therapy is likely to be shorter than if your phobia has several strands to its origin. On average a client will make progress over a twelve week period.

What hapens in an EMDR session?

A session of EMDR will have either a past, present or future focus. I will get to know you first and take an in depth history in relation to your phobia. Once we have decided what you need to process we will do some resourcing for processing, assessment of each memory and then process it.

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Phobia Therapist

Matthew Alderton

BSc, MA, Dip, Dip Psych

Hello my name is Matthew Alderton. I trained for 7 years at The Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education in Paddington London to become a Counsellor and psychotherapist. I am a Psychotherapist accredited by The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

I am also trained in Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR). This is the leading evidence based treatment for PTSD. It can also help with the trauma associated with phobias.

I work in a holistic way using an integrated psychotherapeutic approach. This includes PsychotherapyBody Psychotherapy, and Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).

I like to see people make progress in therapy and in their lives. I am down to earth and friendly enabling you to feel safe to process your difficulties. I’m pleased to offer a range of PTSD treatments in London & Hertfordshire.

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