Self-help - Phobias

Each phobia is different and no single self-help programme will work for everyone. You may decide to use your own self-help strategy, or get help from a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist.

A self-help programme could include:

  • lifestyle changes
  • a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • attending a self-help group
  • using exposure therapy (see below) to overcome your fear
  • a combination of these

Lifestyle changes

Making some simple changes to your lifestyle may help reduce the symptoms of a phobia, such as panic attacks.

This could include:

Exposure therapy (desensitisation)

Exposure therapy involves gradually increasing the length of time you're exposed to your phobia.

For example, if you have agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces and public places), you might start by going outside your house for a very short period of time, before gradually increasing the length of time you spend outside and the distance you travel from your house.

Exposure therapy can be a very effective way of enabling you to cope with your anxiety.

Other self-help techniques

Other self-help techniques include:

  • relaxation techniques – a series of physical exercises that help you relax and control your breathing
  • visualisation – combines relaxation and breathing techniques with mentally visualising how you'll successfully deal with a situation that could cause anxiety
  • self-help groups – a useful way of meeting others with similar experiences and sharing ways of coping

Read more about relaxation tips to relieve stress and dealing with panic attacks.

Computerised CBT

FearFighter is a computer programme you can access online.

It's been shown to be an effective self-help method for treating panic disorder and phobia.

There are also a number of NHS mental health apps that you might find useful.

Page last reviewed: 26/10/2018
Next review due: 26/10/2021