‘My Extreme Animal Phobia’ explores fears of creatures big and small

Los Angeles Times:

Medical reality television has a new kid on the block: “My Extreme Animal Phobia,” in which people face their terror of four-footed and creepy-crawly creatures. Why extreme? Because when it comes to mental and physical health disorders on TV, the bigger the better.

The show, which debuts Oct. 21, features three people temporarily living in a clinic trying to overcome (with the help of a therapist) their acute fears about various animals. The premiere episode features people who are deathly afraid of spiders, pit bulls and snakes. Many of us freak out at the sight of a moth or a rat, or know someone who does; a true full-blown phobia is an intense, irrational fear that can cause intense stress and interfere with day-to-day life, such as staying out of parks to avoid dogs.

On “My Extreme Animal Phobia”, host Robin Zasio, a Sacramento-based licensed clinical psychologist, uses exposure therapy to help people overcome their fears, and through counseling she tries to get to the root of the phobia. On the debut episode, a macho guy named Marvin with a facial tattoo trembles and sobs at the sight of a pit bull puppy. A young woman named Jahara hermetically seals herself and her children inside their home to make sure spiders don’t get in. Trips to the park are short-lived if she sees an eight-legged critter.

Read the whole story: Los Angeles Times

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