Therapy | Arachnophobia


If the fear of spiders is less pronounced, treatment is often not necessary. However, if the fear severely restricts the lifestyle of the affected person and the quality of life is significantly reduced, it is useful to treat the fear. Affected persons often report a very high level of suffering, which can be caused by the mere idea of an arachnid.

This is a further indication of the need for treatment. Through the treatment the affected persons should learn a normal handling of the arachnids and come to the insight that the feared arachnids do not represent a real danger and that their fear is exaggerated and unfounded. The treatment of arachnophobia is the same as for almost all forms of specific fear. Measures from behavioural therapy have proven to be particularly useful here. Especially the method of systematic desensitization and flooding (stimulus satiation) usually achieve good treatment success in the context of a specific fear (here spider fear).

Systematic desensitization

Learning a relaxation method (progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, breathing exercises, etc.) is intended to help those affected to calm down and relax in anxiety-ridden situations. The situations that the affected persons indicate as dreaded are now systematically sought out (from less fear-inducing to highly anxiety-inducing).

In the situation, the person applies the previously learned relaxation method. This enables the person to stay in the situation and to experience that no bad event will occur. Later on, the person, without the accompaniment of the therapist, can visit the situations (here: situations in which an arachnid is present) alone and, if necessary, apply the relaxation procedure against emerging fear.


The affected person is directly confronted with the most dreaded stimulus (e.g. touching a spider), without any slow approach, and should remain in this situation. In this way the person learns that the dreaded events (e.g. bite of a spider) will not occur.


Animal phobias (here: arachnophobia) often start in childhood and can develop into old age. However, there is usually only a need for treatment if the affected person feels very strongly restricted in his or her lifestyle due to the fears and reports a strong level of suffering. In this case, there are very good chances of treatment for the person concerned within the framework of behavioural therapy.