Exposure-based cognitive–behavioral therapy is the treatment of choice for specific phobias. A phobia, or an extreme fear of a specific situation or object that results in severe distress or highly avoidant behavior around those objects or situations, can interfere with day-to-day functioning. Using cognitive restructuring strategies with graduated exposure to the feared object, the therapist helps the client to correct anxiety-evoking misappraisals and to replace them with more realistic interpretations and predictions.
In this video, Dr. Tompkins works with a man with a cat phobia. The client's cat phobia has evolved over time, and he has experienced interference in his personal and professional life. Dr. Tompkins supplements exposure-based strategies with cognitive restructuring to help the client to clarify and change his phobic predictions and decrease his avoidant behavior.
About the Therapist:
Michael A. Tompkins, PhD, is a licensed psychologist, a founding partner of the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy, assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a diplomate and founding fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy.
Dr. Tompkins specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders and obsessive–compulsive spectrum disorders in adults, adolescents and children. He is the author or coauthor of numerous articles and chapters on cognitive–behavior therapy and related topics, as well as four books, including My Anxious Mind: A Teen's Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic (with Katherine Martinez) (Magination Press, 2010), which is a Magination Press best seller and earned the 2011 Self-Help Seal of Merit from the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and his most recent book, OCD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed (New Harbinger, 2012).
Dr. Tompkins serves on the Advisory Board of Magination Press, APA's children's press, and is a supervisor for the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and on television (The Learning Channel, Arts & Entertainment) and radio (KQED, NPR).
Dr. Tompkins has presented widely on the topic of cognitive–behavior therapy.