Excel At Life--Dedicated to the Pursuit of Excellence in Life, Relationships, Sports and Career
CBT Jealousy Depression Relationships Conflict Self-efficacy Happiness Goal-setting Motivation Wellness Sport Psych

Popular Articles

Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Happiness is An Attitude

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?

Popular Audios

Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

PsychNotes Index

More PsychNotes: Childhood Issues

January 4, 2017       
print

Exposure Treatment of Simple Phobias in Children
by Monica A. Frank, PhD

fire observation tower
In my early career one of the cases that impressed upon me the effectiveness of exposure therapy when anxiety is caught early in childhood was a 10-year-old boy who had a fear of heights and crowds. He had a high degree of motivation to overcome his fear because he felt embarrassed that his younger brother could climb to the top of a old fire observation tower that was in a local public park. (This was in the days when it wouldn't be considered parental neglect to let your child climb a six story open rail tower—see picture)

So we developed a plan:

1) Anxiety management. I taught him a few exercises to reduce anxiety such as breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

2) Coping script. Together we wrote out a description of what he imagined climbing to the first level of the tower would be like. Since he had already tried it once he could describe what it looked like and his anxiety symptoms. Then I helped him insert some ways to cope such as sitting on the step for five minutes and breathing slowly. We also included some self-talk statements that he created such as “I can do this.”

3) Record, listen, practice. His instructions after the session was to record the script we had written and listen to it over a few days. Then before he came for his next session his parents were to take him to the tower and practice exactly what we had written.

When he came in for his next session he reported that he had climbed to the first level of the tower and that it was scary but he managed to stay there for the full five minutes. Then we added to the script by describing climbing to the next level, sitting on the step to calm himself and, once he was ready, standing by the railing. Again, we inserted coping methods and self-talk.

The third session we followed the same plan for the third level of the tower. The following session he came running down the hall and burst into my office: “I climbed all the way to the top of the tower!”

Not only that but his fear of crowds had diminished as well. When a person faces one fear successfully they often have increased confidence and other fears become less intense. This case illustrates how helping children face fears can teach them a life lesson that will allow them to confront other challenges.

Questions and Comments


All comments and questions require approval so you may not see your submission immediately.

Kindle Books by
Dr. Monica Frank



Recent Articles

Analyzing Your Moods, Symptoms, and Events with Excel At Life's Mood Log

Why You Get Anxious When You Don't Want To

Why People Feel Grief at the Loss of an Abusive Spouse or Parent

“Are You Depressed?”: Understanding Diagnosis and Treatment

15 Coping Statements for Panic and Anxiety

Beyond Tolerating Emotions: Becoming Comfortable with Discomfort

Emotion Training: What is it and How Does it Work?

How You Can Be More Resistant to Workplace Bullying

Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

When Your Loved One Refuses Help

Newest Audios

Building Blocks Emotion Training

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training