Keep yourself calm and very gradually approach the stressful
situation. Get a friend to provide support. Relax before the
confrontation and during it as much as possible. The objective is to
extinguish the unreasonable fear response by replacing it with a more
relaxed response. To do this, you need a hierarchy of real situations
involving increasing stresses. The rationale for in vivo is the same as
systematic desensitization (method #4).
To reduce the unwanted fears and stresses associated with
many situations where the fear is excessive or unreasonable.
To enable you to handle scary situations better and with less
The procedures are the same as in the last method, except that
here you use real situations, not imagined scenes. Refer to the last
method for detailed instructions.
STEP ONE: List the stressful situations in order of scariness
Describe several situations related to your fear on separate 3 x 5
cards. List only situations that are readily available to you, e.g. asking
questions in class if you are a phonophobic student (whereas flying
cross-country several times might be expensive treatment for an
aerophobiac). Arrange 10 or 15 of the situations in order from least
scary to most scary. For example, if you wanted to ask a special
someone for a date, you might first (1) talk with a friend about asking
this person out, (2) ask this friend to help you plan the date, (3) ask
another friend to role-play the situation in which you practice
approaching this special person, (4) talk to the special person without
asking him/her out, and so on.
There are other ways to gradually approach a real situation: (1)
look at a picture of a scary situation (or imagine it) instead of actually
being there, (2) look at the scary situation, such as a tower or animal,
from a distance and gradually approach it, (3) take a supportive friend
along, (4) shorten the amount of time spent in the scary situation, and
(5) approach smaller or less scary versions of the thing you fear
(examples: approach less attractive males/females before the
beautiful ones or buy a puppy if afraid of big dogs).
STEP TWO: Develop an emotion incompatible with fear
You need some emotion to counter the fear, usually relaxation but
perhaps fatigue or anger or assertiveness. The relaxation techniques
given earlier will do fine. Recently, it has been reported that fatigue,
e.g. immediately after jogging your limit, is incompatible with fear,
just as relaxation is. So the person with a fear of elevators might run