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 Elena Touroni

Dr. Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced Consultant Psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.

Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr. Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.

Dr. Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.

She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.