Phobias are actually quite common and it is estimated that they affect 7%-13% of the population. These fears – which are disproportional to the actual danger – can include social situations (meeting new people, public speaking) as well as specific activities (driving, flying, elevators, medical/dental procedures, etc.). If untreated, a phobia can worsen to the point in which a person’s whole life is seriously affected. Unfortunately, a phobia does not usually go away by itself.
This problem, however, is extremely treatable — there are techniques, using the latest scientific based methods of “exposure therapy” and cognitive restructuring, which can provide fast and effective relief. The first step in treating a phobia involves finding out the specific things that you fear. After your thoughts associated with these anxieties are explored and evaluated for accuracy, we devise a hierarchy of triggering situations. In steps of increasing intensity (like imagining the situation or watching a video), we move through the list of fear-inducing situations with exposures of at least 30 minutes at a time.
In addition to having experience in treating most common phobias, I have a specialty in working with patients who have dental or medical anxieties and fears. As a Lecturer at U.C.L.A. and a former dentist, my training is valuable in providing the medical/scientific background to effectively treat these disorders.
Treatment can often be completed in 10 visits or less; for dental/medical phobias, whenever possible, I work in conjunction with your physician or dentist. For patients from other countries or states, I offer a 1-2 week program of intensive treatment.
Philip Pierce, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist located in Los Angeles, specializing in Phobia Treatment.