If you missed the first episode of Fright Club (now named Extreme Phobias, Extreme Cures) last week, then you really missed out!

 

The premise of Extreme Phobias, Extreme Cures, showing on Sky One in June and July 2015, is for our Clinical Director, Richard Reid, together with a second psychotherapist, to work with several groups of people with phobias to overcome their fear.

 

Last week, it was Ornithophobia, the fear of birds.

 

To many, this simply sounds ridiculous. To sufferers, this is very real and prevents them from leading normal lives.

 

In the show last week, the individuals told the cameras how they believed the birds would peck them to death, as well as being incredibly scared of the bird’s wings flapping. It’s irrational, but debilitating for those people.

 

So, during the programme, they were given a series of tasks that gave them exposure to birds. This is called extreme exposure therapy.

 

Extreme Exposure Therapy

 

Task 1: To take some feed and feed the swans, ducks and pigeons.

 

Task 2: To go into a dove loft of 250 doves and carry one out.

 

Task 3: Work on a turkey farm, firstly to weigh the turkeys in their live state, and then to pluck them.

 

Task 4: To handle a bird of prey and take part on a falconry show.

 

The Outcome?

This was edge of the seat viewing.

 

But through gradually building up exposure and going from non-risky situations to more challenging ones throughout the tasks, the participants were able to achieve results they never dreamed possible.

 

By the end of the show, every participant successfully became a falconer for the show; and this is no mean feat! These birds swoop at high speeds and are known to be able to tear the flesh off of bones.

 

Richard says:

“People with phobias can be ruled by their fears. And when being in a situation where they are exposed to their fear, they immediately want to escape. But it’s at that point that they need to stay.

We were on hand to help them to do exactly that, by breathing through the fear, and helping them to overcome their desire to flee. We were there to help with ensuring their irrational thoughts were replaced by real experiences.”

 

Research suggests that group exposure therapy is more powerful than individual therapy, where each is there to support and encourage each other.

 

This is certainly the case with ‘Extreme Phobias, Extreme Cures’, evidenced by this tweet from one of the participants:

“Thanks to 9 amazing friends I made during #FrightClub torture. Will never forget your support – the only thing that got me through.”