What is a phobia?

A phobia is a debilitating fear of an object, place, situation or animal. If you have a phobia, you likely experience a deep sense of panic whenever you encounter your fear.


If your phobia has become severe, you might find that you’ve started to organise your whole life around avoiding the situation or object that is causing your anxiety.

Different types of phobia

There are different types of phobias: simple phobias and complex phobias.

Some examples of simple phobias are:

  • Animal phobias – such as rodents, dogs, spiders, birds and others
  • Bodily phobias – such as blood, vomit or injections
  • Environmental phobias – such as heights, deep water and germs
  • Sexual phobias – such as performance anxiety or fear of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Situational phobias – such as flying or going to the doctor

Some examples of complex phobias are:

  • Agoraphobia – fear of open spaces, crowded places, travelling or public transport
  • Social phobia – fear of social situations
consultation taking notes

Frequently asked questions

You should seek help if you find that you are so fearful of something that you are going to great lengths to avoid it and it’s beginning to get in the way of your daily life. It’s also important if you want to ensure that you don’t pass your phobia onto someone else e.g. your child as children have a tendency to model the behaviour of their parents.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most effective therapeutic approach for phobias. Medication is not usually recommended for phobias. However, if your anxiety is debilitating and interfering with your daily life, then we may recommend a review with our Consultant Psychiatrist to consider short-term medication.

Treatment usually involves a hierarchy of exposure to your phobia in small, digestible steps. It tends to be a relatively short-term intervention that will entail roughly 12 sessions.

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Dr Stacie Tay

Dr Stacie Tay attained her BSc (Hons) Psychology at the University of Nottingham and worked as a psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health, Singapore, before returning to the UK to complete her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University College London.   

Dr Tay has worked in a variety of settings within the NHS for more than eight years, including primary and secondary care, specialist psychological services and forensic inpatient settings. She currently works as a Clinical Psychologist at the North East London Foundation Trust.  

She has extensive experience working with individuals and groups, providing evidence-based psychological therapies including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Psychotherapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) and Mindfulness-based approaches as well as Schema-informed therapy.   

Dr Tay’s clinical experience involves working with people who present with a range of mild to severe mental health difficulties. This includes depression, anxiety (OCD, social anxiety, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, health anxiety, phobia-related disorders, PTSD), stress related issues, low self-esteem, complex trauma, interpersonal difficulties, grief and bereavement, and long-term health conditions.