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Each phobia is different and no single self-help programme will work for everyone.

You may decide to use your own self-help strategy. Or get help from a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist.

A self-help programme could include:

  • lifestyle changes
  • a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • attending a self-help group
  • using exposure therapy (see below) to overcome your fear
  • a combination of these

Related topics

Talking therapies

Lifestyle changes

Some simple adjustments to your lifestyle can reduce the symptoms of a phobia

This could include:

  • regular exercise
  • eating healthy, regular meals
  • getting enough sleep
  • reducing or avoiding caffeine and other stimulants

Exposure therapy (desensitisation)

Exposure therapy involves gradually increasing the length of time you're exposed to your phobia.

If you have agoraphobia, you might start by going outside your house for a very short period of time. Then increase the amount of time you spend outside and the distance you travel from your house.

Exposure therapy can be a very effective way of enabling you to cope with your anxiety.

Other self-help techniques

Other self-help techniques include:

Relaxation techniques

Physical exercises that may help you relax and control your breathing


This involves relaxation and breathing techniques whilst mentally visualising. You visualise how you would successfully deal with a situation that could cause anxiety.

Self-help groups

A useful way of meeting others with similar experiences and sharing ways of coping.

Related topics

Relaxation tips

Dealing with panic attacks

Computerised CBT

Computerised CBT is an effective self-help method for treating panic disorder and phobia.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE.

page last reviewed: 01/10/2018
next review due: 01/10/2021

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