Exposure-based cognitive–behavioral therapy is the treatment of choice for specific phobias. A phobia, or an extreme fear of a specific situation or object that results in severe distress or highly avoidant behavior around those objects or situations, can interfere with day-to-day functioning. Using cognitive restructuring strategies with graduated exposure to the feared object, the therapist helps the client to correct anxiety-evoking misappraisals and to replace them with more realistic interpretations and predictions.
In this video, Dr. Tompkins works with a man with a cat phobia. The client's cat phobia has evolved over time, and he has experienced interference in his personal and professional life. Dr. Tompkins supplements exposure-based strategies with cognitive restructuring to help the client to clarify and change his phobic predictions and decrease his avoidant behavior.