Throughout the previous weeks, I have been meeting with therapists one-on-one to hear about their experiences with phobias. The general consensus is that exposure therapy is a sound clinical practice, and is often used. Exposure therapy involves gradually and systematically exposing individuals to the feared object, situation, or memory in a controlled and supportive environment. The process allows individuals to confront their fears and anxieties safely and in a structured, secure way, helping them develop new associations, beliefs, and coping mechanisms. By repeated exposure to fear-inducing stimuli, individuals can learn how to deal with their fears. The stimuli used in exposure therapy do not have to be the real thing as videos and even VR can be used in the place of the real thin. The specifics of exposure therapy vary from person to person as the character of the fear dictates what kind of therapy to use. If someone is afraid of spiders, because they don’t like their spindly legs, then the therapist may choose to start with videos of spider-like animals and slowly ease the patient into being presented with the subject of their fear. One of the therapists I talked to mentioned helping someone with emetophobia (the fear of throwing up) by presenting them with fake vomit-like substances in order to get the patient used to it. Once the patient is “treated” the fear is considered extinct. A good portion of phobias seems to stem from a lack of control, more specifically, from not knowing what is going to happen. An example of this would be emetophobia as not knowing when or if it is going to happen contributes to the overall phobia. Because of this, the therapy used to help with phobias creates an environment in which the patient becomes okay with not knowing what is going to happen while knowing that they can still control their own responses and reactions. So, there is definitely truth to the adage that one should “face their fear.” But it is important that this is done in a safe, clinical setting with an experienced provider.