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Specific Phobias

Specific Phobias used to be called "Simple Phobias". However, for people who have these fears, there is nothing simple about them.

Specific Phobias are exaggerated, irrational fears of specific things, places, activities, or situations. At times, these fears can become quite severe and can interfere substantially with people’s lives.

Some common fears in Specific Phobia include:

  • Agoraphobia
  • Animals or insects
  • Blood, injections, or injuries
  • Enclosed or confining spaces
  • Flying or driving
  • Going to the dentist
  • Heights

Specific phobias are exaggerated, irrational fears of specific things, places, activities, or situations. At times, these fears can become quite severe and can interfere substantially with people’s lives.

Our outpatient clinic offers weekly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in either group or individual format. However, many clients prefer a more intensive, daily treatment program -Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.


Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

There are several reasons to consider such an intensive treatment program:

  • Some research suggests that intensive (daily) treatment may be more effective, especially in the earlier stages of treatment.
  • People who have not benefited fully from less intensive interventions may respond well to more intensive, daily treatment.
  • Some clients will find it more convenient to come for treatment for a briefer period of time, rather than stretch out their treatment. This may be especially true for clients who have difficulty adjusting their work schedules, or who come in from out of town.

The Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program for Specific Phobia is an intensive therapy program that can be completed in one three hour session in one day, or five daily sessions in one week. Each of these daily sessions lasts 1.5-2 hours.

After the initial assessment, treatment consists of exposure to the feared situation. Exposure refers to gradually facing frightening situations in a controlled manner until they stop triggering fear. In some cases, we can even use virtual reality technology to help with exposure. For example, people who are afraid to fly might be taken on a series of "virtual" or simulated flights before trying the real thing.

During these sessions people are also taught to identify and change behaviors and thought patterns that have strengthened their fears. Well-conducted studies have shown that even a single session of exposure, lasting between 1-3 hours, can lead to significant improvement.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is this an inpatient, partial hospital, or residential program?
A: The Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program at the Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a specialized intensive therapy program that does not fit into any of these categories. Clients do not stay overnight at The Institute of Living. Each visit lasts from 1.5-2 hours and clients are expected to spend additional time during the day completing homework exercises on their own. Those who live outside the Hartford area may choose to stay in a local hotel (our center can help those from out of town locate an appropriate hotel).

Q: Is this service covered by my insurance plan?
A: Please be advised that most insurance plans do not pay for the Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program and our staff members are not contracted with any insurance companies to provide this service. Therefore, the client will be responsible for all costs. We will provide you with an invoice and you are free to seek reimbursement from your insurance company if you wish. Clients who wish to use their insurance plans may receive weekly treatment through our outpatient clinic.

Q: Does “accelerated" or "intensive" cognitive behavioral therapy mean that this treatment is harder than regular treatment?
A: Not necessarily. The words “accelerated" or "intensive" cognitive behavioral therapy mean that treatment is delivered more frequently than the typical weekly schedule. This allows you to receive immediate feedback and support from your therapist about your exposure homework exercises. Therefore, Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is more focused and possibly more effective, but is not necessarily more difficult than weekly treatment.

Q: What is the cost?
A: The Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program for Specific Phobia typically runs either on one day (3 hours) or over one week (5 daily sessions). The typical cost for a one day program is $525 with a licensed psychologist and $300 with a postdoctoral fellow*. The typical cost for a one week program is $2,500 with a licensed psychologist and $1,500 with a postdoctoral fellow*. The cost may be different if your clinician determines that a different schedule of visits is warranted. You will be informed of the structure of the program at the initial evaluation.

* Postdoctoral fellows are clinicians that have their Ph.D., but are not licensed. The postdoctoral fellowship is a 2 year training program in which fellows receive specialized supervised training in Anxiety Disorders and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy prior to taking their licensing examination

Anxiety Disorders Center


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