Overcoming a phobia can be extremely difficult, especially if a person intends to do so without any professional help. If the sufferer intends to undergo phobia self-help, it is important for that person to first learn as much as possible about that phobia so he or she truly understands it. Learning about the thing that the person fears can help him or her develop ways to overcome that fear. Phobia self-help may have mixed results, however, if the person is not willing to commit the time and energy it takes to overcome the fear.
Once the person has learned as much as possible about a particular fear, he or she will need to do some self-examination to figure out what may have caused the fear in the first place. This phase of the phobia self-help program can be difficult and time-consuming, and some people may never come to an understanding of what caused the fear. For others, however, phobia self-help may work well if the person can figure out what triggers the emotions that cause the phobia. This discovery may not treat the phobia entirely, but it is an important first step.
Many sufferers tend to try to rationally combat the fear in order to overcome it. This works for only a small percentage of people; fears generally aren't rational emotions, so trying to counter them with rationality is often not the best solution. Instead, phobia self-help should continue by attempting to desensitize oneself when faced with the fear. This can be done by exposing oneself to the thing he or she fears. The best way to approach this technique is to start slowly; for example, if a person has a phobia concerning dogs, he or she may want to begin desensitizing by first looking at photos of dogs on the Internet. When he or she feels comfortable with that, the person may choose to look at a dog from afar, or in a secure environment such as a pet store. Gradually, the person can work up to being in the same room with a dog, approaching a dog, and petting a dog.
Perhaps the most important step in phobia self-help is recognizing when the self-help treatment does not work. This recognition opens a person up to professional treatment from a trained and licensed medical professional. This should not be considered admitting defeat, but instead admitting a better course of action is necessary.