There is a traditional way of treating phobias and then there is the VIRTUAL REALITY way of treating phobias. Immersion in the sensory world takes a leap forward in ways that traditional therapy cannot. This article describes where we have been and where we are headed with this important treatment of phobias.

Individuals with specific phobias struggle to function on a daily basis. Feeling the need to leave a gathering early, refuse to travel by ✈️ flight, refusing to drive long distances, or taking the stairs rather than an elevator are just a few examples of behaviors people use to avoid the stress brought on by their fears. The process of healing always starts with increasing your understanding. The traits inherited from family, how an individual grew up and currently lives, as well as the way the brain thinks or feels, interact to play a role in the development of phobias. Several phobias, such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders), acrophobia (fear of heights), aviophobia (fear of flying ✈️ ), and claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), serve as examples.


Consider this scenario: Throughout your life, you have managed to avoid flying. Eventually, however, you find yourself on a plane. Symptoms of a panic attack present. Your heart ❤️ begins to race, you find yourself uncontrollably trembling, and you feel like you can’t breathe. This would point to aviophobia, or fear of flying ✈️.

Traditional Phobia Treatment

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is a method K-Counseling commonly utilizes to change the thoughts & behaviors linked to phobias. Principles of this include:

Exposure Therapy:

At the heart ♥️ of treating phobias is Exposure Therapy. Based on personal preferences and the type of phobia, individuals are exposed to their fear in a safe environment. There’s 2 main types of exposure therapy facing your fear head-on or using visualization techniques.

With each step of exposure, you get a little closer to managing your fear

Cognitive Restructuring

Another method to combat phobias is called cognitive restructuring. Instead of facing the fear directly, this method focuses on changing the way you think about it. The therapist and client work to accomplish this by first identifying negative thought patterns. Let’s assume a negative thought you have is, “All dogs are mean.” Next, the therapist would help you reframe by replacing the prior thoughts and beliefs with healthier alternatives. Now, the thought you have is, “Most dogs are friendly, and I can stay calm around them.” Adjustments such as this change how you think about your fear and it becomes easier to manage as you deepen your understanding.

“Most dogs are friendly, and I can stay calm around them.”

Relaxation Techniques
Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, and mindfulness MEDITATION. Examples are taking notice of the things you can see, hear, feel, or taste.
Behavioral Strategies
Behavioral strategies involve practical techniques designed to confront and manage phobias effectively. It involves systematic desensitization, self-monitoring using tracking and using a ladder exercises to gradually increase the fear with every ‘step.’Think of this approach as a toolkit filled with helpful methods to help you build CONFIDENCE & RESILIENCE.

Virtual Reality Phobia Treatment

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET)
The newest and most exciting addition to K-Counseling is VRET. This therapy is different from all other methods. You engage with your fear within a virtual environment, facilitated by a virtual reality headset which is a high-tech device that you wear over your eyes like a pair of goggles and a trained therapist guiding you every step of the way. VRET is endlessly customizable and maximizes control over the environment during the session. It is a safe and accessible alternative for treating various phobias. It is virtual immersion into the environment you typically avoid.


Phobia treatment has MANY approaches designed to empower individuals to confront and overcome their fears. With the guidance and support of a trained mental health therapist, along with innovative treatment options, individuals can start their journey toward empowerment and recovery from their phobia. You can reclaim control over your life, you can improve your well-being, and you can conquer your phobia.


This article is co-authored by:

Madison Cain, Psychology Student/Intern at Boise State University
Lisa Schiro, MS LCPC, CEO & Founder of K-Counseling & Anxiety Treatment LLC