Answer to a frequently asked question about phobias of amphibians and reptiles.

What help is available for someone suffering from a phobia of amphibians or reptiles?

A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object or situation. Some people suffer from a phobia of snakes, frogs or toads. It is important to note that this is distinct from a dislike or mild fear, but rather a type of anxiety disorder with real consequences for the person affected. People with phobias might be able to avoid the trigger – for example, someone with a snake phobia might wish to avoid areas where they are more likely to see snakes. They may also be reassured that encountering the animal is a rare occurrence. If the animal in question occurs in their garden, they may wish to avoid certain areas, minimise visits when the animals are active, or even take steps to reduce the value of the garden for wildlife, thereby reducing the chance of encounters (for example by keeping grass mown short). However, this avoidance approach is unlikely to be a viable long-term solution, and seeking treatment is often more appropriate. Happily, research shows that animal phobias can often be well managed and even cured. Treatment options include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (including Exposure Therapy), hypnotherapy and counselling. Some zoos offer sessions on animal phobias guided medical professionals. The following sources provide useful information on animal phobias, and the treatment and support options including self-care. People with phobias may wish to consult their GP for advice on the best approach to managing and treating their condition.

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