What Are Some Coping Skills for Fears and Phobias?

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You use coping skills to offset disadvantages in day to day life. They are a sort of adaptation, such as the finely tuned hearing that many visually impaired people develop.

Coping skills can be positive or negative:

  • Positive coping skills help us get through situations at nearly the same level as those who do not have the disadvantage.
  • Negative coping skills, however, may provide short-term relief or distraction, but ultimately worsen our disadvantage. A common example of a negative coping skill is the abuse of alcohol or drugs.

    Many mental health practitioners, particularly those who practice cognitive-behavioral theory, teach clients healthier coping skills for dealing with their issues, including the group of anxiety disorders known as a phobia. A phobia goes beyond just a normal fear when your avoidance tactics cause problems at work, at home, and in your personal life.

    Coping Skills to Overcome a Fear of Public Speaking

    The fear of public speaking is very common and in extreme cases diagnosed as glossophobia. In order to overcome it, therapists guide clients through, and train clients to perform, a series of coping strategies, including:

    • Progressive desensitization is a gradual process that helps you to learn how to get into and maintain a relaxed state when confronting your fear.
    • Identifying and then logically challenging the basis for your negative thoughts. A characteristic of phobia is an exaggerated or irrational fear. Your therapist can help you devise logical challenges to your ways of thinking that help you develop new and more productive thought patterns.
    • Creating and rehearsing your new positive thoughts that now replace the unwanted negative thoughts.
    • Structured visualization techniques allow you to try out your new skills virtually. By using a video or your imagination, you can gain the confidence required to experience your fear in a real life setting.

      You can apply these public speaking coping strategies to other fears, too.

      Those diagnosed with a phobia may require the guidance of a therapist to overcome their affliction. However, a self-help guide from Tom G. Stevens Ph.D., a psychologist and Professor Emeritus at California State University, provides do-it-yourself guidance to develop the coping skills you need to overcome fears.

      Coping Skills to Overcome Anxiety-Based School Refusal

      About 2 to 5 percent of kids experience anxiety-based school refusal. This usually goes on between the ages of 5 and 6, and then again between the ages of 10 and 11, according to information from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

      This fear, sometimes severe enough for a phobia diagnosis, manifests as physical and emotional symptoms that require productive coping strategies to deal with the problem.

      Symptoms include:

      • Physical symptoms, such as nausea and headaches
      • Tantrums
      • Separation anxiety

      Productive coping strategies for anxiety-based school refusal include:

      • Keeping children in school, but gradually exposing them to the environment
      • Encouraging hobbies and interests to distract children with something fun that builds self-confidence
      • Using relaxation techniques and then using visualization techniques with your child while he is in a relaxed state


        Stevens, Tom. California State University: Self-Desensitization Instructions - The most proven method to reduce phobias, anxiety, and fear.

        Online submission to ERIC: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Model: Integrating Anxiety and Phobia Coping Strategies into Fundamentals of Public Speaking College Courses (2005).

        UCLA Mental Health in Schools: Anxiety, Fears, Phobias, and Related Problems - Intervention and Resources for School Aged Youth (2015).

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