Jacobs Journal of Clinical Case Reports

What can Comprehensive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Achieve in People with Spider Phobia? – A Case Series

*Barry Wright
Department Of Case Reports, United Kingdom

*Corresponding Author:
Barry Wright
Department Of Case Reports, United Kingdom

Published on: 2014-04-28


Background and Objectives:This study evaluated the effectiveness of an optimised and comprehensive cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course for spider phobia using the most up-to-date, evidence-based techniques combined into a treatment programme.
Methods: Twelve individuals with spider phobia were recruited to receive a sequential CBT package delivered by trained psychiatrists. Questionnaire measures (Fear of Spiders Questionnaire (FSQ), Fear Survey Schedule-III (FSS), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)) and brain imaging techniques were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the CBT course
Results:Scores on the FSQ and the spider related item (80) on the FSS in phobics were significantly reduced following a course of this CBT treatment and were related to the ability to cope with spiders and touch them. The overall FSS and the BAI were unchanged.
Limitations:\Limitations of the work included a small sample size, two of whom withdrew pre-treatment, and one after 4 sessions. The study was conducted with a wide age range of participants (16-44).
Conclusions:Our results indicate that the CBT treatment described is effective in addressing spider phobia specifically. CBT treatment did not eradicate all spider related fear, but coping was improved very significantly. This should be discussed with patients who choose CBT treatment for spider phobia to ensure they have reasonable expectations of what therapy can achieve.


Spider Phobia; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; Questionnaires


Specific phobia affects a large proportion of the population, with a projected lifetime risk of 13.2% [1]. The National Comorbidity survey found that approximately a third of people with simple phobia reported that their phobia “interfered a lot” with their “life and activities” [2]. Research suggests that individuals with a specific phobia may be more likely to develop other mental health conditions including various anxiety disorders, major depression and somatoform disorders [3]. Research estimates that 1.2% of men and 5.6% of women in the developing world have a spider phobia [4]. A person suffering from spider phobia may readily admit that their fear is excessive and be unable to inhibit fear responses when exposed to spiders [5]. As medication has so far proven mostly ineffective for specific phobia, talking and exposure therapies remain the most common treatments, although a recent review found that treatments are not equally effective among phobia subtypes [6]. Effective treatment usually involves in vivo exposure, [7], but high drop-out rates are common [6,8].