Flooding for Phobias. Millions of people have phobias, lots of people get over them and lots of people have them for life. The web is awash with millions of dollars worth of treatment plans, quick cures, fast cures, miracle cures and lots more beside.
Over the last five decades, when phobia treatments have become more numerous and more successful, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has become the mainstream treatment of choice. This is popular because it seems to work well for a reasonably high percentage of people that suffer from phobias, especially simple phobias like fear of heights.
Other phobia treatments that claim to work faster are often bogus, as they miss out one core part of tackling a phobia: The doing.
When you overcome a phobia you have to actually do, or be exposed to, the thing that once brought on a panic reaction in you. Nowadays, most people go for graded exposure which is on of the central tenets of CBT. The graded exposure is part of the “behavioural” part.
Some people still go in for “flooding”.
Flooding is, as the name suggests, a technique where by instead of breaking down a problem into sizeable chunks and slowly exposing yourself to it more and more, you jump in off the deep end and expose yourself to the lot. For example, a claustrophobic patient might voluntarily be shut or even locked in a cupboard, a patient with a fear of heights might go to the top of a tall building and look over the side.
As I’m sure you can imagine this could be a rather extreme and nerve-racking business. It takes a lot of courage.
There are some reasons why the flooding technique might be worth a look, even though it is largely considered out of date:
It is cheap
If it works it is quick
There is no need for therapy
If it works it is incredibly empowering
There are also some negative points to note:
Its success rate is not good
Its relapse rate is not good
It is incredibly hard to do and can be traumatic
If you think flooding might be for you I strongly advise you to seek professional guidance. It is (just) conceivable that simple phobias hide deeper psychological problems that could be uncovered. More to the point you want to have someone with you before you take on anything that scares you that much, for moral support if nothing else .
In a nutshell, try it if you want but I don’t recommend it.