eTherapy phobias Psychology

Exposure Therapy: A Personal Experience with Fear

Exposure Therapy | Self Help | Phobias | Fear

Woman reaching out with right hand while swimming under the surface of a pool.
Do you have a phobia that you have wondered if you can do without? Read about my experience with Exposure Therapy, and consider whether a self-guided plan or a structured and mediated plan could help you. Photo by Imei Hsu (2018).

There is a type of phone call I receive at least a half dozen or more times a year. It sounds something like this:

Caller: Hi, I’m calling about a problem I have, and wondering if you do this.”

Me: Sure, what is the problem?

Caller: Well, I feel kind of embarrassed to say this, but I am afraid of [insert fear]. I don’t even know what can be done about it.

Me: OK, thank you for sharing what you are afraid of. Up to now, what have you done to address your fear of [insert fear] so far?

Caller: Mostly, I just try to avoid it.

Me: OK, how’s that working for you?

Caller: [laughing] Obviously not too well if I’m calling you!

Me: Fair enough!

Caller: So, do you offer any help for this? Like, do you do some kind of desensitizing program?

Me: Do you mean, Exposure Therapy?

Caller: Yes.

Me: That depends on the type of response and the type of phobia.

After we get to that last sentence, everything afterwards is dependent on the type of phobia and the individual’s response to that phobia; everything else is generalized information that isn’t specific enough to be helpful. Over the course of my counseling practice, I’ve been able to help individuals confront specific phobias by creating in vivo and systematic desensitization scenarios, and watched phobic reactions decrease so that the former terror associated with those situations turns into a whisper.

In other words, Exposure Therapy often works because I apply it to those who have the highest chances of responding well to it, and I don’t recommend it for those who have a low chance of a extinguishing that fear response using Exposure Therapy alone.

To give you an idea of what Exposure Therapy is like, and why guided Exposure Therapy might be of help to you if you have a phobia that you’d like to seek treatment for, read on for my personal experiences with Exposure Therapy.

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WordCamp 2017


Seattle WordCamp 2017 is November 4 and 5, hosted at the Seattle Convention Center. 

You may be wondering, “What does a two-day convention about using WordPress have to do with my counseling needs?”

Actually, you may be surprised.

After gathering feedback from my clients over the past 17 years of being a private practice licensed counselor, you all have made it loud and clear that having relevant and recent information on this website is one of the main reasons you chose me as a counselor to help you, your family, or a colleague.

While you might have come across my Psychology Today profile, it was looking at my website and knowing that I updated my schedule and wrote personal blog posts that helped you feel that I was someone you could trust, and someone you could talk to.

As my new website for gets ready to launch in January 2018, I was not surprised that designer Natalie McGuire has helped many companies just like mine operate smoothly on the WordPress hosting platform. I enjoy the ease of use, beautiful features, affordable options, and accessibility that WordPress has created, and I’m proud to say that Seattle Direct Counseling has been on the WordPress platform since 2009.

That being said, owning and maintaining this website is a labor of love. If you see something out of place, a feature that isn’t working quite right, or a glaring error, please feel free to point it out. I go under the hood and fix small errors myself, and I report the big errors to WP directly.

If you are in the greater Seattle area and have an interest in blogging or owning a small business on WordPress, I invite you to check out WordCamp. It’s a friendly, casual community with lots of support for newcomers as well as deep-dive options for developers and established business owners. Whether you are new to microblogging or a long-time user of e-commerce for business, WordCamp has something for everyone, and is a great weekend for networking with likeminded people.

For more information about WordCamp in Seattle, please click here.


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Three More Years

Pioneer Square, Office Location in Seattle

Six hundred baskets of flowers were hung all over Pioneer Square on May 20, 2014.
600 of flowers were hung all over Pioneer Square on May 20, 2014. Photo by B. Imei Hsu #throughglass

In 2010, Seattle Direct Counseling moved from a basement in beautiful West Seattle to a small office in Pioneer Square in the Grand Central Building. In 2012, SDC moved across the hall to its present location in Suite 364, a large office space with generous natural light, tall ceilings, and a large waiting room.

We’re announcing the renewal of a three-year lease in the same space that begins June 2014. Just outside our building, I hear the shout of a homeless man on the corner. He is there almost every day.  On the other corner waits ten or more others, taking shelter under the trees of Occidental Square, resting on the brick.  Someone once asked me, “Why do you want to stay? Couldn’t you find a more attractive neighborhood to put your office?” He made a reference to the homeless people lingering outside. I couldn’t disagree more. This is the perfect place for our office.

I’ve thought long and hard about why Seattle Direct Counseling should stay in Pioneer Square. Here are a few of my reasons:

1. Our location keeps us in touch with people. Pioneer Square’s diversity helps keep it real. Where else do you see all walks of life, ethnicity, socio-economic diversity, social services, and corporate lifestyle, all in the same blocks?

2. Fun and Fitness — it is possible to run and bicycle in the area around the building, which supports our total wellness agenda. I just took a short run along Alaskan Way and the waterfront. Perfect!

3. Affordable rent – rents are increasing in the area. Grand Central Building has offered us a reasonable lease.

4. Our current clientele — our clients tell us over and over how much they love our office! The view is nice, the location is close to the bus lines, and parking is reasonable. The office itself is one of the most spacious and aesthetically comfortable spaces I have ever worked in, and every time I see it, I am so proud to say this is the home of the meaningful work that I do with each and every client.

The space allows us to maximize our strengths in movement therapy, in yoga and meditation, and in other adjunctive therapies that require more space than your standard psychotherapy session, and gives us the ability to host related groups and small workshops without renting additional space.

5. Occidental Square is a city park — during the summer, there is the First Thursday artwalk; Pike Place Express market trialed a smaller version of the fresh market last year and intends to return; the space is a known gathering place for families, for artists, and for workers enjoying the sunshine. It’s a “happening” place.

6. My colleague, Atta Dawahare of Union Therapy, is next door. Over the years, we have referred clients to each other, covered each other’s vacation schedules, even caught each other’s deliveries when away from the office. No solo therapist can see every type of client, and while we overlap some of the scope of practice, we both have unique assets that help specific clients. [Edit: I failed to add this point in the original post in my haste to share the good news of our renewed lease. In fact, this point is second in importance only to location].

Our current space allows us to maximize our strengths in movement therapy, in yoga and meditation, and in other adjunctive therapies that require more space than your standard psychotherapy session, and gives us the ability to host related groups and small workshops without renting additional space. For example, I have hosted sessions that involve walking outside and learning to identify healthy foods and eating environments.

For those of you who are new to Seattle Direct Counseling, we hope you will love this office space as much as we do.  For our returning clients, welcome home.