In a world first, a psychology research team at the University of Tasmania has created a Web site used to help treat arachnophobia.
The Web site, called Fear Drop, was developed over several years by a team within the University’s psychiatry department, led by Professor Ken Kirkby. The treatment exposes patients to pictures of spiders, which research fellow Dr Allison Matthews says reduces a patient’s anxiety over time.
“There is research evidence to show that exposure to pictures and feared objects has beneficial effects in treatment,” Matthews said.
Suitable for people with all levels of phobias, the demand for Fear Drop was driven by the high costs and inaccessibility of traditional psychiatry treatments.
“A lot of people who experience phobias don’t actually seek treatment, so there’s definitely an unmet demand there,” Matthews said.
The team a currently developing a 10-stage program for the treatment.
Over 1000 people have registered on the Web site, which the research team hopes to expand to the treatment of bird, cat, frog and rodent phobias.
“The possibilities are endless and we also hope our treatment will be used by therapists as a part of traditional face-to-face treatment,” Matthews said.