How to Fight a Phobia

Not only do I treat phobias when people come to my psychotherapy office, but I’ll confess to having struggled with public speaking anxiety myself. It’s actually one of the most common phobias.

Last April, I decided to challenge myself: teach about phobias in an Ignite talk. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable giving talks, but the Ignite format: 20 slides, 5 minutes, with slides auto-advancing every 15 seconds….that definitely made me nervous.

But a friend nudged me to face my fear, I submitted my talk, and it was accepted!

Here is the result:



The slides can be viewed in better quality below.


5 Responses to “How to Fight a Phobia”

  1. K

    This was a wonderful presentation! I appreciate you offering your voice to a struggle that can feel so personal and isolating. It is amazing how reassurance, practice and baby-steps seem to be the formula for developing new pathways.

    • drkkolmes

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. One of the reasons I love working with anxiety is that I have been there myself. I know we have to celebrate these baby steps and small victories. And it’s nice that we now have technology to sometimes remind ourselves, “Hey, I did that!”

  2. Monica

    Wonderful that you were able to hit the key points in 5 minutes. I will use the idea of building desensitization hierarchies with my anxiety clients. I do it verbally but think a visual will be more helpful for them. I overcame my speaking in public phobia during grad school when every week and every class had a public speaking assignment. I went from behind the podium to walking the stage during my 15 months and now I give training classes. Amazing how tweeking your thoughts can make such big differences! Thanks.

    • drkkolmes

      Yes, looking at your thoughts can help so much. I also know many people who find the safe, graduated exposure of Toastmasters to be a great way to overcome fear of speaking in public. I attended a few of those before my first SXSW presentation in 2009! It helped.

  3. Brigs

    Hi there is a lot of research going on right now in neuroscience that blocking memory reconsolidation (after a fear memory is recalled and destabilized) can attenuate, and sometimes, completely erase phobias and other fears. There is a clinical study going on right now at the University of Amsterdam using this concept for panic disorder and PTSD. Here’s a video illustrating it:


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