What Are the Goals of Therapy for Phobia?

Therapeutic Goals for Phobia Treatment

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The goals of therapy for phobia are to reduce or eliminate the symptoms so you can perform daily activities, including making and managing money, taking care of your household, and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships.

About 10 to 12 percent of Americans suffer from a diagnosable phobia.

The type of treatment you receive depends on the type of phobia you have and the severity of your symptoms.

There are three types of phobia:

  1. agoraphobia
  2. social phobia (social anxiety disorder)
  3. specific phobia

A good mental health professional will customize a treatment plan for you, which may include both talk therapy and medication. A physician is more likely to add medication to an agoraphobia or social phobia treatment plan than for specific phobia.

The therapeutic goals of phobia treatment with psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis is the one-on-one talk therapy you see in movies and on television. The therapist believes your phobia has roots in a repressed traumatic childhood experience and the goal is to work with you to uncover it. In order for psychoanalysis to successfully resolve your phobia, you must make a commitment to the process, which may take years. 

A mental health professional is more likely to employ psychoanalysis for agoraphobia or social phobia than for specific phobia, because you don't need to know the root cause of your fear for successful treatment.

Goals of exposure therapy as treatment for specific phobia

Your treatment goals for phobia are likely to be met through the CBT method Exposure Therapy. During this desensitization process, the therapist will gradually expose you to stimuli related to your fear in a safe and controlled environment. You've reached your goals when your distorted thinking diminishes to a functional level or disappears.

Therapeutic goals of psychoeducation treatment for specific phobia

The goal of psychoeducation is to restructure your thought patterns in order to overcome your irrational or overestimated fear and usually the first like of treatment for specific phobia. The therapist will help you learn to let your thoughts be helpful instead of debilitating. The response rate to therapeutic desensitization techniques is 80 to 90 percent.

Goals of Agoraphobia Treatment

Agoraphobia is the fear of being in situations where you can't escape, such as a crowded stadium or on a bridge. The goals of agoraphobia treatment is to learn:

  • your fears are not likely to come true
  • your anxiety will gradually decrease in public and that you're capable of managing your symptoms until they do
  • the factors that trigger your panic attacks, or panic-like symptoms, or make them worse
  • techniques to deal with your symptoms
  • how to change the unwanted and unhealthy behaviors through self-guided desensitization techniques

Goals of Social Phobia Treatment

Your treatment plan for social phobia is likely to include a combination of talk therapy, medication, and role-playing.

The goals of treatment for social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, include helping you to

  • change the negative thoughts you have about yourself
  • develop confidence in social situations, especially the ones you fear most
  • improve your coping skills

Medication commonly prescribed to help you reach your therapeutic objectives, include:

Example: The treatment plan for Jack's spider phobia included one primary and three secondary goals of therapy. 


Mayo Clinic: Agoraphobia (2014)

Mayo Clinic: Social Anxiety Disorder - Social Phobia (2014)

New York University Department of Applied Psychology: The Many Treatment Methodologies for Phobias - Finding the Best Fit

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