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Self-help - Phobias

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 to overcome your fear
  • a combination of these

Lifestyle changes

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

This could include:

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 time. Then increase the amount of time you spend outside and the distance you travel from your house.

Exposure therapy can help 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.

Find out more about relaxation techniques


This involves using breathing techniques while you visualise how you would successfully deal with a situation that causes you anxiety.

Self-help groups

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

Computerised CBT

Computerised CBT is an effective online self-help method for treating panic disorder and phobia. It is based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps you recognise unhelpful thought patterns and behaviour.

How to deal with panic attacks

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

Page last reviewed: 1 September 2022
Next review due: 1 September 2025