Face Your Fear: Flooding Therapy

 Out of all the treatments used to cure phobias I found the flooding technique the most interesting. Powell et al. (2009) describes flooding as a behavioral therapy that involves the patient being face to face with their phobia for a prolonged period of time. The patient literally faces their greatest fear. This is obviously an unorthodox treatment but it seems to be effective in certain cases. It is completely different from the systematic desensitization treatment of phobias which seems to gradually countercondition a person's phobia. The idea is that the patient will be faced with their phobia for such an intense period of time that the stimulus causing the phobia will be extinct. The patient in the video below suffers from a fear of heights, and his phobia is clearly interfering with his life. As the video shows the therapist wastes no time in treating the patient's phobia with this technique and literally makes him climb the steps of a tall cathedral during their first session. I also found it interesting that the doctor points out that the the anxiety attack the person will suffer from can only last a certain amount of time. The body can only exert so much energy, and the intense anxiety doesn't last forever. Perhaps flooding cures a person's phobia once they force themselves to go through the anxiety attack, and get over that hump they never allowed themselves to through before.


  1. This type of treatment, as funny as it is, reminds me of a Maury episode of phobias. People that were afraid of the strangest things (balloons, pickles) were faced with those objects and seemed to freak out when they came into contact with them. I think this type of treatment can make a phobia worse at times!

  2. This is a very extreme treatment, but it seems like it would really work. Although, it seems cruel to force someone to face their phobias while experiencing anxiety and fear, as you mentioned it won't last forever. After they have faced their fear and overcomed anxiety it may elicit to the person that they overcame the hardest thing so if they can do that they can overcome anything after that.

  3. This video was really interesting. While this therapy seems like it has potential to effectively treat phobias, I imagine that not many people with extreme phobias would ever even attempt to receive a therapy like this. If they do have the courage to attempt flooding therapy, I imagine it would still take more than one session to successfully overcome a phobia.


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