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Phobias and CBT

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

We often find that children are presenting to therapy settings with highly impairing anxiety disorders, including Specific Phobia, Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Separation Anxiety Disorder.

At NuHypnosis we use Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) as a treatment which focusses on assisting children and families to develop healthy ways of coping with the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that are maintaining anxiety disorders. It is an active, structured, and time-limited therapy, suggested as the first-choice treatment for children with anxiety disorders due to its widespread support in clinical trials.

Although fear is a normal emotion, which is part of a child’s development, phobias are explained when a fear is persistent and becomes excessive and leads is a physiological arousal and triggers distress and avoidance (DSM-5). This can result in not wanting to meet with friends as there might be a dog or not wanting to put a hand up in class/meeting for fear of judgement or not going on a family holiday as you have a fear of flying or perhaps not being able to leave parents to go to school or on a school trip.

Some fears are considered developmentally appropriate and can occur fleetingly at various development stages. During the infant years, fears seem to be concrete and centred on the immediate environment, such as strangers or unexpected noises. Among 4- to 6-year-olds, imaginary creatures such as monsters or ghosts as well as the dark, are common themes. Between 7 and 12 years old, fears are usually centred on realistic events such as natural disasters, global warming and physical health (their own and family members).

Anxiety and phobias are among the most commonly occurring disorders in childhood. With CBT and Imagination Therapy we see that a significant component of overcoming anxiety appears to be the child’s gaining control and mastery over negative emotions. Developing this sense of control will mean that the child learns to deal with feared stimuli, to manage feelings associated with the fear and learn specific coping skills to deal with the fear. In my sessions the child has the opportunity to learn and practice the necessary skills to overcome the feared stimulus and anxiety-provoking situations.


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