Affect Phobia Therapy is based on the premise that internal conflicts about feelings underlie most psychologically based disorders. The affect phobia therapist views these conflicts as “Affect Phobias,” a phobia about feelings. Similar to external phobias, a patient with an affect phobia avoids the experience and expression of certainl feelings like anger and grief in a same way a person with a phobia about bridges would avoid bridges. These patients adopt avoidant feelings, thoughts and behaviors to an extent that they are unaware that there is an underlying feeling that are avoiding.
The Affect Phobia Therapist helps his/her patient recognize the avoided feelings as well as their method of avoidance. They use Malan’s Triangle of Conflict and Triangle of Person to see the affect phobia, understand its’ origin and impact on present day relationships.
The Affect Phobia Therapist uses a variety of techniques in order to help the patient expose oneself to the avoided feeling in a step-by-step process using anxiety regulation and gentle confrontation of defenses.