Specific phobia is characterised by a marked fear of a particular object or situation. Individuals with specific phobia experience intense anxiety when faced with the feared object or situation and actively avoid such encounters. Five phobia subtypes are typically specified: animal, natural environment, blood/injection/injury, situational, and ‘other’, comprising low-prevalence phobias such as the fear of choking (phagophobia) or the fear of vomiting (emetophobia).
If the individual is experiencing significant distress or functional impairment as a result of their symptoms or avoidance, psychological assistance may be required.
Assessment of specific phobia would include an account of the onset and development of symptoms, course, current symptoms, skill deficits, medical issues, and comorbid psychological conditions, amongst other matters. Self-report measures and semi-structured interviews might be used.
Exposure typically forms the basis of psychological treatment for specific phobia, and in vivo exposure might be considered superior to other methods.