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Why Exposure for Phobias Is Effective

Almost everybody has a fear. Maybe you’re scared of heights, spiders, social situations, or going to the dentist. While having a fear is common, problems can arise if you start limiting your life to avoid what you're afraid of. Fear tends to expand outward, so if you limit one thing, you might later find yourself limiting more things associated with the first thing. Fortunately, the way that fear expands outward can be reversed with exposure. 

Exposure therapy is effective for phobias because it pushes a person to stop avoiding the thing that they fear. Over time, people tend to habituate to their feared stimulus. That is, their fear around it gradually decreases over time and exposure. Additionally, people often discover that their feared situation was not as bad as they imagined. 

If you’re curious about exposure therapy, talk to a mental health professional who can assist you in facing your fears. 


Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.

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