Specific Phobia (SP) can be described as an excessive fear of a specific object or situation. The anticipation of or exposure to this feared specific object or situation can cause an intense level of anxiety that is out-of-proportion to the actual object or situation. Individuals with SP can recognize their fears as irrational, but the extreme anxiety experienced can cause them to avoid these objects or situations in order to have some relief. SP can cause individuals great emotional, occupational, and interpersonal distress.
The preferred treatment for Specific Phobia is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This therapy uses an approach called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP allows individuals with SP to experience their feared object or situation, while learning to tolerate the anxiety rather than doing an avoidant behavior to quickly experience some relief. ERP assists individuals with SP to become desensitized and/or tolerate their fear without the marked anxiety.