Among the most common specific phobias is the fear of insects, bugs and rodents. Find out how these phobias develop and how you can enlist the services of a psychologist, counsellor or therapist to help you overcome this fear.

How does a phobia develop?

Simple or specific phobias, such as being truly fearful of spiders or snakes, often start in childhood. This can be the result of being teased, hearing horror stories from parents or other adults or simply from lack of exposure to the type of animal or insect the individual fears. Simple phobias rarely develop in adults, although a phobia that begins in childhood may remain fully entrenched in adulthood.

What does a phobia feel like?

Very few people enjoy coming across a rat, cockroach or spider, but for most us, our immediate feelings of disgust, irritation or fear quickly dissipate as we rationalise these emotions. However, if you suffer from a specific phobia of insects or vermin, then you will likely feel immediate and extreme fear when confronted with the object of your phobia. You may consciously know that the fear is unreasonable, but you are not able to control your fear. The closer the animal gets, the more fear you may feel. For many people, extreme measures may be taken to avoid the animal entirely, to the point where the phobia interferes with their life (academic, work or personal). (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

How is phobia treated?

Counselling with a counsellor, psychologist or therapist often includes exposure therapy. Exposure therapy might begin with mild exposure to the subject causing the fear, such as having the client view photographs of the bug or rodent that they are afraid of. Eventually, the counsellor, psychologist or therapist may bring their client into close contact with the subject of their phobia and even help them progress to being able to touch the subject. Early counselling sessions might include drawing or coloring pictures of snakes, the next progression might include looking at real photographs of snakes. The next stage might include holding plastic snake toys and the final stage of treatment might include being the same room as a snake and/or even holding a live garden snake.

Other methods include other cognitive behavioural approaches which help the phobia sufferer to find ways to overcome their phobia so that it no longer impacts on their day to day lives.

What are other types of phobias?

Simple phobias are not limited to animals and insects. Other types of simple phobias include fear of environmental elements, such as storms, heights or bodies of water; fear of needles or injections; fear of specific situations such as elevators, tunnels, bridges or flying; or fear of germs or getting ill. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

Seeking counselling help

If you or someone you care about is struggling with fear of animals or insects, or another specific phobia, such that it is starting to negatively impact on their lives, they or you may benefit from talking with a professional qualified counsellor, therapist or psychologist. If you would like more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Associated Counselors & Psychologists Sydney.

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