My Client and His Ant Phobia

At this point I think we have covered the most common forms of therapy that I typically implement with my clients. There are obviously a number of different other forms that are practiced and each one is used for different scenarios with the level of effectiveness and success rates varying from each case.

I would like to talk a little more detail about a client that I have worked with recently because I think it helps tie everything together.

Real Life Application

So if you have missed it or forgot, I mentioned a few posts ago that I recently had a client, we’ll call him Bob, who was absolutely mortified at even the thought of ants. Just like most phobias and other anxiety disorders, they (for the most part) are completely irrational.

antsEver since Bob could remember, he has had a horrific fear of ants. He genuinely does not know where it came from but he has had to deal with it for his entire life and it has affected his every day way of living.

So what form of therapy do you think would work best?

Well, in this case if you said behavior therapy you are correct. We started off by simply showing Bob pictures of a few ants and over the coarse of weeks we gradually increased, or desensitized him, by increasing his exposure. I found an exterminator in Chandler, AZ who was awesome and helped me with my client. Of course, they were licensed & insured and would never do this kind of exposure without taking the proper precautions. After months of work and targeting problem thoughts and behaviors, we were able to eventually make Bob comfortable enough to at least be in the same room as the ants which might not seem like much but for Bob was a life changing experience.

The same techniques can be applied to a number of phobias. If Bob was terrified of rodents, we would have used and looked for rats or mice in our desensitization exercises but used the same methods.


Every Case is Different

One thing to keep in mind when taking everything that we have talked about in is that not every method of treatment will be as effective for every person and that there are a number of factors that will determine which treatment plan will produce the best results and exactly how effective it actually will be. Every client and every single case is unique where CBT might be the best method for one, while some simple online therapy might be the best route for someone else.

Trust Your Therapist

trustThere is one thing that should be applied by every single client and it is a pretty important one. It is imperative that you trust your therapist in whatever he or she thinks will be the best form of treatment for your particular instance and sometimes you may not agree with whatever they have to say.

We are in the chair sitting across from you for a reason. We went through years and years of education, experience, and practice to be in the position that we are in and everything that we know and practice is based on years of actual scientifically peer-reviewed empirical evidence and not simply because we want to make this a miserable experience for you. Click here to get a little background on what it takes for research to be accepted in the scientific community.

The types of therapy that we have covered so far are generally the most common in the field. Next I will go into more detail on a case that I briefly mentioned earlier.

You Can Do it From Home

All of the counseling styles that we have discussed so far does require the client to actually show up to their therapists often and to implement most of the therapy with their therapist. I think this is a very big reason why a lot of people don’t seek treatment and would prefer to stay home and not have any form of interaction with a “shrink.”

Well keeping up with today’s day and age, there are now things that anyone can do right in the comfort of their own home.

Online Therapy

Highway Signpost "Counseling"Many people might not be aware of it, but there is a form of therapy that has been gaining more attention than previously before and the recent and very little research that has been done on the effectiveness of online therapy seems to be indicating fairly promising results.

A lot of people suffer from certain disorders that hinder them from ever leaving their home and for those people, online therapy has had a lot of success.

You can also ease your way into the actual interaction that you have with your therapist and can have as little as you would like. If you are more comfortable with just messaging back and forth instead of a face to face session, this can be done but should be gradually increased to maybe calling on skype with the hopes of eventually working up to a face to face interaction.


Interpersonal Therapy

I think that most people out there had some sort of idea on the basic concepts of the 3 previous forms of therapy that we have discussed so far. Today I will discuss one that doesn’t get as much attention as the other 3 but can have very positive impacts for pretty much anyone and everyone.

Now the circumstances surrounding those who seek interpersonal therapy are usually much different than others and have to deal with the relationships that people develop with others in their lives.

Personal Relationships

interpersonalThe main reason that clients have come to me seeking this form of counseling is that conflicts with others around them seem to be the main source of their depression or other mental ailments.

Interpersonal therapy is generally pretty short when compared to other forms and the idea of it is rather simple. The overall emphasis on this form of treatment is to really analyze and identify problem relationships in ones life and to help develop a plan to gain a better social circle or support group that will not cause you such mental troubles.

Whenever I feel that this can be effective I ask my clients to not just think about people in their lives, but to really sit down and very closely analyze where conflicts are coming from and to weigh this in on the relationship that they have with certain people.

Behavior Therapy

Now that we have covered the C in CBT, we can move on to the B and as I am sure you have already guessed it, it stands for behavior therapy.

Change Your Behavior!

The main focus of this form of therapy involves changing certain behaviors in order to target and identify emotional problems.

You will commonly find behavior therapy being used in certain anxiety disorders (such as the ant example I briefly mentioned). A common technique used in these situations involves something called “desensitization” where the client is often subjected to whatever is giving them anxiety and gradually increase the degree that they are being subjected to.

Back To the Ant Phobia

behaviorSo going back to one of my clients that has had the life altering ant phobia, behavior therapy could be a viable option for therapy. We would maybe begin their treatment by asking them to imagine just one ant crawling in the same room as him. We start off very small and this is very important not to get carried away at the start of treatment. You would be surprised, but even the thought of one ant was enough to absolutely terrify my client and throw him into a state of panic.

Every session you would build off of the last and gradually increase their desensitization. The goal would be to eventually increase it to the point where ants are actually brought in and we modify their behavior to desensitize them.

Cognitive Therapy

Now that we have covered what I find to be the most effective form of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, I can start talking about other forms that others in my profession may find just as, if not more, effective.

Your Thoughts

cogSo as I am sure you could have guessed, cognitive therapy focuses on identifying problem thought processes and dealing with them on the spot. This form of therapy usually does not consist of directly changing your negative behaviors and is usually applied to solve immediate problems or irrational thoughts.

Just like any other counseling techniques or styles, the amount of time that is required to reach successful results with cognitive therapy depends on a number of factors. For the most part, I only like to suggest this form of counseling when thought processes are not necessarily debilitating or requiring immediate results.

The more severe the problem behaviors or thoughts are, the less I like to suggest sticking with just cognitive therapy. Although it can have very fast and very effective results in a shorter amount of time than other forms, this is usually only the case for minor issues.

This also might require a few homework assignments that must be followed through with in order to reach its potential. It is very easy to know whether or not a client is actually being truthful in his regimens and only those who genuinely want to change will follow though.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Over the years, I have been involved with a variety of different therapy techniques and styles by the my focus and specialty has been with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. This form of therapy relies on changing both your attitudes and perceptions about the things that are on your mind, as well as changing your behavior about the same issues.

I have found this method of therapy and treatment to be the most
effective for the majority of cases that I have treated. It takes more than to just change the way you cbtthink about certain things or to just change
certain problem behaviors. When you combine the two however, I have seen the most significant results and the highest number of success rates when compared to other forms of therapy.

Can be Anything

For obvious reasons, I cannot share many details about any of my clients or the situations they are in. I find real examples to be the best forms of teaching however so the details of some of any stories I share will be altered slightly, but the basis and foundation of them are all true.

A recent client of mine has had a phobia of ants for their entire life. Whenever someone says they have a phobia of something, they generally don’t mean it in a way that they have an actual disorder. In the case of my client, it was most certainly a real disorder and completely changed the way he lived.

So anyone out there who is embarrassed or ashamed of any issues they are having just remember, there are thousands out there who you would probably think have it much worse off than you do.

We All Have Our Issues

One of the biggest things I try to incorporate in my counseling practices and really make sure that my clients understand is that every single person on this planet has their own personal issues with something.

There are no exceptions to this. Even Bill Gates has issues of some sort and I am sure could find and see the benefits with incorporating some sort of therapy into his life.

We Are Social Beings

4I think this is a huge reason why any form of therapy seems to have a sort of stigma attached to it. A lot of my clients come in with the impression that they are the only ones who are suffering in the ways that they are and that there must be something wrong with their brain that separates them from others. This is simply not true and it is a very hard wall to cross for a lot of people, but the end result is always positive.

We are social creatures and we base a lot of our feelings and emotions on both the way others perceive us, and the way that we perceive the others around us. When you are able to feel a connection or similarity with the way your peers are feeling then it is much easier to accept what is going on and to take the next steps necessary to actually start seeing the benefits therapy can have.

Counseling Is For Everyone

Counseling and therapy is something that almost everyone could benefit from by applying it to their own lives. You don’t have to have a mental illness or any pre-existing condition in order to see positive benefits from counseling, and I think this is a huge misconception that a lot of people here in America hold.


An Italian

I am originally from Italy and when I compare the outlooks and the way people implement counseling between my home country and here in America, I see a lot of differences but also a lot of similarities.

I think the biggest thing that I have noticed is the stigma that seems to be attached to those who seek counseling here in America. It is almost like you are shunned if you seek treatment and this is something that I will never understand. Back in my home country, people have a lot more sympathy and empathy towards those who seek treatment and you are never looked down upon for doing so.

Even Therapists Can Need Therapy

Even though I am a counselor myself, there have been countless times where I have thought I needed to seek treatment for a number of reasons. Who wouldn’t benefit from having someone you can talk to about your problems and listen without passing any judgement?

We all have our crosses to bear and there isn’t anyone out there who wouldn’t find something beneficial from seeking therapeutic help.