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Are You the Right Person to Help?

A Checklist to Help Decide


Updated November 22, 2011

If you have a friend or relative suffering from a phobia, your instinct is probably to help. However, helping someone conquer a phobia is far different than simply providing normal support to a friend. It can be exhausting and, at times, overwhelming. This checklist can help you decide whether you are the right person for the job.

Time: Helping someone through a phobia requires a major investment of time. You may need to attend therapist appointments, go places with the sufferer and spend a great deal of time talking. If your schedule is already full, it may be best not to make the offer.

Patience: In order for treatment to be successful, the sufferer must set his or her own pace. There might be times that you feel like your loved one is taking baby steps or simply not progressing at all. It is important that you are able to control those feelings and avoid becoming frustrated.

Understanding: If you have never experienced a phobia, you will probably not be able to truly understand your loved one’s feelings. However, it is important to recognize that the feelings are valid and are real to that person. Empathy is a crucial skill for a support person to possess.

Comfort: In order to be successful, both you and your loved one must be comfortable with you taking that role. A deep level of trust must be present on both sides. You must also be comfortable with the idea of mental disorders, therapists and medications.

If you are unable to become a primary support person for your loved one, there are still ways in which you can help. Think of specific tasks that fit into your life and your comfort level, and offer to perform those tasks. Never promise more than you are certain that you can give.


NHS: Primary Mental Health Service. Helping someone else overcome a phobia. http://www.pmhtglos.org.uk/pmht244332.html

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