Explaining Phobias and How to Overcome Them

This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Phobia is the fancy medical word (from Greek) for something that we all know: fear.

You see, sometimes fear is completely reasonable. Fear plays a fundamental role in our “fight-or-flight” response. Say that you see a grizzly bear in the woods. If you weren’t afraid of it, you might end up doing something irrational like trying to go up and pet it.

Yet sometimes we may fear something to an irrational extent, and that’s precisely what a phobia is. Phobia is a fear that doesn’t necessarily measure up logically to the actual threat or danger that you are facing. One example would be a fear of going outside, which is known as agoraphobia.

While phobias can really disrupt your life, they don’t have to remain phobias forever. Keep reading to learn a bit more about phobias and five methods for overcoming them so that you can stay up on your mental health and work to live a life free from (irrational) fear.

5 Methods for Working On Your Phobias

Phobias are generally targeted as a psychological condition, meaning that there has been a great deal of research into them from a psychological standpoint. Various schools and methods of therapy have thus been used to try to overcome phobias.

The following methods may prove useful, but you may need to try multiple kinds before you find the one that works best for you.

And if you would like to learn more about phobias in general, especially from a psychological standpoint, you may want to consider the useful resources available online through BetterHelp. https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/phobias/

Now, here are five legitimate ways that you can work on your phobias.


Biofeedback depends on medical technology to monitor your vital signs while you face whatever your phobia is. Doctors or therapists are generally involved, as this requires medical technology and the know-how to analyze the information.

If you’re afraid of snakes, for example, you would be connected to electrical sensors and then monitored while exposed to snakes. The snakes may be virtual or there in person, depending on how severe your phobia is.

Biofeedback works by seeing your physiological response to fear and will work on lowering it over time as you gain more exposure to the phobia.

Virtual reality therapy

Virtual reality isn’t just for flight school or video games. It’s being used more and more as a tool to fight phobias.

The virtual headset allows people to face their fears by confronting them with the phobia in a way that feels real but offers a safe distance from the actual thing. Without direct exposure, people may be more willing to face their fear than if it was in person.

To fully overcome the fear, it may need to be faced in person, so this may be more of an intermediate step on the way to full recovery.

Systematic desensitization

Systematic desensitization is all about exposure, like the majority of methods to overcome phobias. The way this works is that patients will be exposed to a relatively mild version of their phobia as they are given the cue to relax.

For example, the therapist might bring up the phobia while the patient meditates or tries deep breathing. The goal is that with time, and increasing exposure, the fear can be overcome slowly but surely. The key aspect of systematic desensitization is to proceed carefully (and systematically).

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a very common form of therapy. The idea is to change our underlying thought patterns so as to change our behavior.

CBT would work to overcome a phobia by attempting to explain the source of the phobia and its irrational aspect. This is a widespread form of treatment so is generally an accessible option to try.


Finally, you may be prescribed medication if your phobias are severely disrupting your life and you can’t seem to make progress with any other methods.

A common treatment for phobias is anti-anxiety drugs. Just be sure to consult with a doctor or psychiatrist before taking any medication.


Phobias can make our lives really hard. How are you supposed to have a social life, for example, if you can’t even go outside (agoraphobia)?

No matter what kind of phobia you have, however, the same principles apply. By working on them with one or more of the various methods outlined above, you can overcome them with time and effort, enabling you to live a life with less stress and anxiety. 

Disclosure: This article is brought to you by BetterHelp.