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Whether speaking in front of a crowd, flying in an airplane, or touching a spider your fears are real, and they can be addressed. If you are serious about exploring your fears, find a therapist you can trust and get moving.
Once a rapport is built, there are two main approaches a therapist might use to help her clients recover from fear: 1) real-life exposure and 2) psychotherapy.
Widely known as the most effective way to overcome fear, in vivo exposure (working through a phobia in real-life exposure in the present) gives the client confidence to undo fears and phobias (persistent fear that marks significant stress). Years of research point to desensitization (diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it) as the most effective treatment for fears and phobias.
In facing a fear, the client often experiences unresolved emotions from the past. Walking through the feeling and developing a new perspective can help restructure the effects of past fears.
When is exposure not enough? Some fears may be deep-seated and core-based. A few examples include general fears of abandonment, rejection, loss of control, illness, and death. In these cases, psychotherapy is suggested.
Using psychotherapy (the process of increasing the individual's sense of his/her own well-being) to explore the fear in depth may be useful when working with clients who have undergone traumatic events.
There are still cases where some residual fear remains even after therapy. Clients are encouraged to continue to work on their fears on a regular basis in order to maintain recovery. The client may not feel entirely comfortable or natural at first, but after undergoing therapy, a resolution is more likely to occur. In doing the work, it becomes much easier to face what you previously avoided.
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