Specific phobias are commonly classified in five categories: Animal Type, if the phobia concerns animals or insects; Natural Environment Type, if the phobia concerns objects such as storms, heights or water; Blood-Injection-Injury Type, if the phobia concerns receiving an injection or seeing blood or an injury; Situational Type, if the phobia concerns a specific situation like flying, driving, tunnels, bridges, enclosed space or public transportation; and Other Type, if the phobia concerns other stimuli such as loud sounds, costumed characters, choking, or vomiting.
Psychotherapeutic: Fortunately, specific phobias are highly treatable through behavior therapy. A typical method involves gradual, repeated exposure to the feared object, event or situation. A child afraid of dogs might start treatment by looking at a picture of a dog, then work up to playing with a stuffed dog, being in the same room with a small dog, and so on. Therapy that teaches strategies for coping with fear and anxious thought patterns is another common option for older children.
While many children grow out of their specific phobias, others will not without therapy. In the mean time, they suffer acute distress, and worry about exposure to the object they fear can seriously limit their activities. Children with unresolved specific phobias are also more likely to continue to experience them in adulthood.
Does medication help?
Medication is not usually prescribed to treat specific phobias, as behavioral therapy is very effective at treating the disorder. In some cases of extreme anxiety, however, a practitioner will prescribe medication to help a child or adolescent participate in the behavioral therapy.
What causes it?
Experts are unsure about the root causes of specific phobias. Phobias can be learned from family or may arise from a disturbing experience. There may also be a genetic factor to specific phobias.
Should I help my child to avoid the thing she is afraid of?
Abetting your child in avoiding the object of a phobia will not help her to overcome it. The relief derived from avoidance is temporary, and it may even make the irrational fear stronger. Therapists actually treat specific phobias through gradual, repeated exposure to the stressor.