Therapist for Fears & Phobias

Parent Q&A

  • EMDR for phobias?

    (3 replies)

    Does anyone have experience with EMDR to treat phobias that are not related to a traumatic incident?

    RE: EMDR for phobias? ()

    I did not use EMDR to treat phobias, but I DID use it to treat something that was not a traumatic event -- I used it to deal with recurring anxiety, sadness, and negative thoughts about an emotionally absent father.  It worked very well and I highly recommend it even if you are not addressing a specific event.

    RE: EMDR for phobias? ()

    I just wanted to say that I am currently in CBT treatment for phobias not related to a traumatic incident with Dr Elizabeth McMahon in SF, and after about 6 sessions, I'm seeing marked improvement. One of my phobias was eliminated after only a few sessions. It's not EMDR, but I wanted to pass the info along in case you're open to other modalities. 

    RE: EMDR for phobias? ()

    I'm seen John Bieda, an MFT with offices in Alameda and Concord, for trauma therapy.  He uses EMDR for phobias, test anxiety, pain management, and other problems.  He is EMDRIA certified.  I know he accepts many forms of insurance including Kaiser.  He can be reached at (415)254-8203 and 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Therapist for phobia/anxiety/panic disorder

Aug 2014

Does anybody have a recent recommendation for a therapist who works with people who have phobias and panic disorders? I'm hoping for something short term, maybe even hypnotherapy even though I'm not convinced it works? Thanks.

I highly recommend Jennifer Shannon at the Santa Rosa Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy Center. She's a bit of a drive from the east bay, but is excellent. And I'm sure if the drive to the north bay is too much, she can put you in touch with someone that will fit your needs closer to where you are located. Look her up by her name or SRCBT, they have a website describing who they are and what they offer. My daughter saw her during her teen years, and I'm grateful that we found her. Donna

Hi - I am also looking for a therapist for these same issues. Two people who came highly recommended to me are Kathryn Hirt, MFT who specializes in working with panic disorder, and has really good recommendations ( and Janet Williamson who I could not find contact information for. Just wanted to share the research I found for this exact thing. ! anon

It's difficult to know how long it might take to resolve an issue. Hypnotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are likely to be most short-term. I know an excellent hypnotherapist in Kensington at Colusa Circle. His name is Francis Dreher. I've worked with Dr. Dreher on a number of issues over time with great success, and I sent a friend who had a fear of flying which was easily resolved. His number is 528 3738. SM

Hi, Rita Smith is a cognitive behavioral therapist who works with people with anxiety. I worked with her at UC Berkeley in a 14 session cognitive therapy for depression treatment study, and her clients had really great feedback about working with her when I conducted their assessments. Her clients often improve fairly quickly, and she is works with you to set goals for treatment. Maybe check out her Niki

Hi there-- I had to respond, as I have severe PTSD, which is also an anxiety disorder. You need to find a specialist in anxiety disorders. I had seen multiple therapists over the years with no success before I found Dr. Mark Balabanis, a terrific cognitive behavioral therapist in Oakland who specializes in anxiety disorders. I've had great results-- the therapy has been life-changing for me. His level of knowledge is incredible, and he has a gentle and warm demeanor. He works out of an office in the same building as Market Hall in Rockridge. I recommend him without reservation. BTW, I did try EMDR for anxiety and it didn't work at all for me. -been there

Therapist for 9yo girl with newish phobias and anxiety

August 2011

Our nine year old is struggling w/a few phobias, social anxiety and hates being touched or too close to people outside of the immediate family. Any recommendations would be appreciated. We're in Berkeley. Thanks, Concerned Mama

There is a program that is highly regarded that has a children's version. Lots of local hospitals hold the course but they also have home workbooks/cds for those who can't attend the course on site. Kaiser holds the courses, I think in Vallejo and you don't need to be a member to sign up. Here is the link and there is a number at the bottom of the page that may know the local classes for kids. Where and when they are. Cathey

My recommendation for a sensitive, intuitive therapist is Christine Bartlett, PT, CHT, whose specialty is helping people with phobias through hypnotherapy and other modalities. She can be reached at 510-418-1940; her e-mail is ChristineBartlettLight [at] Best of luck! mr

Did you successfully treat a phobia with therapy?

May 2010

I was wondering if members of the BPN community could give me advice on seeking counseling to overcome a phobia. I have a pretty good idea of what started the phobia, but have had no luck overcoming it on my own. I am not looking for recommendations for specific therapists, but rather to hear about your experiences seeking therapy to overcome a phobia and whether or not you were successful and what the experience was like, how long it took, etc. I am also interested in learning more about the types of therapies available or general advice for finding the right therapist. I have only had one experience with a therapist and it was very negative, so I'd like to go into this with a little more information this time. Thank you!! -Therapy wary, but tired of being afraid

There is a class at Kaiser Vallejo (you don't have to be a Kaiser member) called ''Phobease''. It's a 6 week 2 hour each night class on how to conquer Phobias. They give you a work book and tapes and have tasks to do each time. My son was in this class years ago. They have an adults class and a kids class. I'm sure you could find it if you call Kaiser or go online. I don't have the info anymore. Good luck. anon

Hi. I'm phobic of snakes, and can remember being teased and chased with them when I was little. In college I replied to a study where they wanted people with phobias to complete a process called systematic desensitization. For this, I was asked to rate a low level fear (for me, it was a child's drawing of a snake) to a high level fear (snake somehow lands on my head). We agreed to a plan where they exposed me to snakes, starting with my lowest level, up to a place where I could actually be in a room with one caged. All along the way, my heart rate, sweat and breathing were monitored.

I initially enjoyed the therapy and believed I was making a lot of progress but the truth is, I never finished it. I was able to look at and hold a child's drawing, then I was able to look at and eventually hold a more accurate drawing. The next step was to look at an actual photograph, which took two or three weeks of trying. But, I couldn't hold it. I couldn't control my response enough not to freak out, shake, hyperventilate, etc... I quit.

Twenty years later though, I still go back to the techniques I was taught, whether I'm heading out into the woods or to a museum or zoo where I'm afraid snakes are everywhere and I might run into one. Frankly, even walking around Lake Merritt makes me nervous because 10 years ago someone was walking with one wrapped around his neck. The bottom line is I still cannot imagine a day where I would enjoy being near one, but I can visualize a situation where I might be ''exposed'' and breathe through my panic, use rational self talk (e.g, That man is not going to put the snake on you. He's not here to torment you. If you keep walking and look away, you're going to be okay) and still live my life - which does include lot's of outdoor time and public spaces where unfortunately, snakes are. I'm also pretty open about my fear with the folks who go outside with me and to places like the zoo. They know if they see one first it's best to try and help me avoid seeing it, preferably without ever telling me I was even close

I wish you the best. Phobias suck. Mary

I had a really great experience with the Phob-Ease class taught by Dr. Howard Liebgold (aka Dr. Fear) at Kaiser Vallejo. He's a total character, and though the drive from Berkeley was really long, it was absolutely worth it. That class made a serious difference in my life. I came away from the class armed with 80+ techniques, based upon a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach, and the class environment was also very helpful - probably more helpful, in my opinion, than 10 weeks of individual therapy. Highly recommend this class, if it is still available.

His website,, looks like it hasn't been updated in a few years. You might try calling the numbers listed there for Vallejo Kaiser Behavioral Health Center 707-645-2312, 707-651-2692, and ask if the Phob-Ease class is still being taught. CBT fan


Therapist who specializes in phobias?

June 2002

Does anyone know a therapist or clinic that specializes in phobia cures? I have heard of types of therapy for phobias that are very quick and effective when there are aren't a lot of other issues to be worked out. Louise

You might want to try the Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy . Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is the most effective treatment available for help with phobias, and we're lucky to have one of the premier centers for research, education and treatment in the Bay Area right here in Oakland. They can be reached at 510 652-4455 or online at I hope this helps!