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Doc Tests Acutapping To Treat Phobias - Jonnyjonny_uk - 08-08-2009 06:16 PM

Doc Tests Acutapping To Treat Phobias

Rats, snakes, water bugs. All these creepy crawlers have actually led to a legitimate medical condition, and without treatment, sufferers of phobias can have problems that last a lifetime.

Doctor A. Harvey Baker PHD, a professor of psychology at Queens College of the City University of New York, admits a lot of experts are skeptical about the the techniques he is working on. But he's convinced that they can work and is hoping to prove that relaxation in brain activity can help overcome some phobias. The study is still ongoing.

"The closer I am to [snakes], the more afraid I get, and the farther I want to go away," said Nisha Ishmael, who is taking part in tests with Dr. Baker.

Ishmael is a student at Queens College. She has had a fear of snakes for as long as she can remember. "It's like anxiety. I just back up and I don't want to go near it," she explained.

For some, certain fears are so severe, they are considered a phobia.

"About 11 percent of the population have what would technically be called a phobia," Dr. Baker said.

Dr. Baker is studying two techniques to help people like Ishmael get rid of their fears. The first treatment involves looking at articles from popular magazines as a distraction and source of relaxation.

"In this study, we have rats, mice, a tarantula, water bugs and a snake. The way the fear gets reduced is by relaxing while simultaneously encountering physically or through imagination the feared object."

The other treatment is called acutapping, a combination of tapping specific points on the body while repeating positive affirmations. Dr. Harvey said the treatment is based on the theory that some psychological problems are caused by an imbalance in the energy system.

"I agree [that] it does look ridiculous but I've seen that the techniques work and so I've asked that patients give a try," Dr. Baker said.

For Ishmael, the techniques seemed to help as she was able to get very close to a snake that was housed in a glass container without running away. But she may not be ready to have a pet snake yet. "Not yet ... working on it. Maybe later," she laughed.