Frequently Asked Questions

What is Sydney Phobia Clinic?

Sydney Phobia Clinic is a psychology clinic dedicated to the treatment of specific phobias. We run treatment programmes for individuals to tackle their fears and phobias in controlled, systematic ways.

We aim to create a space where we can quickly and effectively treat any specific phobia by developing a large set of resources, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), manuals, photobooks, and worksheets. Through these resources we can help individuals reduce their anxiety and re-engage with life.

How is Sydney Phobia Clinic different from other psychology clinics?

A key component to effective phobia treatment is access to the appropriate resources for each individual phobia. Unfortunately, most psychologists don't have access to the resources needed to effectively treat many phobias. By concentrating our efforts on only phobias, we are in a unique position to develop our own solutions and deliver them in structured courses.

Why does Sydney Phobia Clinic use Virtual Reality (VR)?

A key component of phobia treatment is Graded Exposure Therapy, also known as systematic desensitisation. Graded Exposure Therapy involves slowly exposing the person to their feared situation so they can practise coping skills and learn to manage their anxiety. For many phobias it is difficult to get safe, gradual access to feared situations. For example, fear of flying, fear of MRI machines, fear of the dentist, and many animal phobias are difficult to expose to in a gradual manner.

Recent advances in Virtual Reality (VR) technology has made it possible for us to develop virtual experiences to fill this treatment gap. This means treatment can be much more gradual than ever before, while providing many more opportunities to practise skills and techniques than ever before.

Does it work? What is the evidence?

Graded Exposure Therapy is a type of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and has decades of evidence showing its effectiveness in the treatment of specific phobias.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) is a treatment method for Graded Exposure that uses virtual experiences for the exposure portions of the therapy. VRET has decades of research behind it and in most cases is as good as in-vivo (real life) exposure therapy1, and the reduction in anxiety translates well to real life situations2.

  1. Opriş, David, et al. "Virtual reality exposure therapy in anxiety disorders: a quantitative meta‐analysis." Depression and anxiety 29.2 (2012): 85-93.
  2. Morina, Nexhmedin, et al. "Can virtual reality exposure therapy gains be generalized to real-life? A meta-analysis of studies applying behavioral assessments." Behaviour research and therapy 74 (2015): 18-24.
How much do the programmes cost?

For our 5-session programmes, the total amount is $1,660. A Medicare rebate of up to $622.50 is available with a referral from your doctor.

Breakdown of fees:

  • Hourly psychology rates are $220, which is less than the APS recommended hourly rates of $238. No GST is charged on psychology services.
  • Extras, such as Virtual Reality or In-Situ (real world) exposure sessions are billed at $115 per session, in addition to psychologist rates
Can I get Medicare rebates?

Medicare rebates are available with a valid Mental Health Care Plan from your GP.

The rebate amounts vary between $420 - $622.50 with our 5-session programmes.

What will I have to do during the programme?

During the programme, you will attend 5 sessions which take between 60 & 90 minutes, depending on the sessions. You will shown a range of practical skills and techniques that are helpful for reducing anxiety, breaking unhelpful behaviour patterns, and challenging unhelpful thoughts. To get the most out of the course, you will be expected to dedicate some time to practising your new skills outside of the sessions. Setting some time aside on a daily basis is often the best and easiest way to ensure progress.

The specific sessions will vary from face-to-face therapy-style delivery of material and more practical skills practise in the later sessions.

Are you going to put me in a room full of spiders?

We are not. Our programmes aim to equip you with the skills to manage reasonable situations. So maybe a spider. But not a room full ;)

Can Sydney Phobia Clinic treat my social anxiety/social phobia?

Social anxiety presentations are quite varied. Uncomplicated social phobias are often associated with social performance situations, and we have a programme for that! You don’t need to know the difference though, contact us for a free brief assessment to help determine if our programme will be suited to you. If we feel you would be better served elsewhere, we will happily help you find the appropriate service.

Can anyone do a programme?

As our programmes are delivered like courses, anybody is able to do one if they wish. During initial phone assessment, will advise how necessary we feel the programme may be for you, and you can decide whether or not it is something you want to continue with.

I have a fear of [X}, can you treat me?

We only see people with concerns relevant to specific phobias, and primarily the common ones. However, if you have a phobia of something less common, we may be able to adapt one of our programmes or create one to suit you. If your concerns are related to other factors, such as other diagnosable mental health conditions or trauma, we may make recommendations for you to seek more appropriate treatment options.