A. Listen to interviews with two women, Julia and Chloe, about their phobias. Answer the questions.




1  What is she afraid of?



2  How long has she had the phobia?



3  What does she think started it?



4  How does/did it affect her life?



5  Has she had any therapy?

Yes / No

Yes / No

B. Listen again. What do you find out about their therapy or why they didn’t have therapy? Are their phobias better now?



Speaker 1 (Julia)

1 Spiders

2 Since she was 12

3 A very big spider went across the room in the flat where she lived.

4 She’s better now and can sit in same room as a spider, but not for long. In the past it affected her a lot – she couldn’t sit in the same room as a spider, always kept doors and windows shut.

5 Yes

Speaker 2 (Chloe)

1 Buttons

2 Since she was six or seven months old

3 Her mum tried to dress her in a cardigan with buttons.

4 She has problems buying winter coats, as there aren’t many that don’t have buttons. She doesn’t like hugging people who are wearing clothes with buttons. Her mum had to adapt her school uniform.

5 No


They both still have their phobias, but they are better.


I = interviewer, J = Julia, C = Chloe


I   Do you have any phobias?

J   Yes, I’m very, very scared of spiders.

I   And how long have you had this phobia?

J   I’ve had it since I was about twelve, so for more than thirty years.

I   Did something happen to start the phobia?

J   I remember – and it’s when I think I started being frightened – I remember a very big spider in the flat that we lived in at the time coming out from under the television and going across the room, and me being absolutely terrified, and that’s the first time I remember being scared.

I   How does it affect your life?

J   In the past, it was really awful. I mean, I couldn’t sit in the same room as a spider, and I always had to keep all the doors and windows shut because I was frightened that spiders might come in. But I had some therapy, and I can now sit in the same room as a spider – not for long; it still has to be moved – and I can put it in a glass now and take it outside myself if I have to – if there’s nobody else there. So it doesn’t affect me as badly as it did before, but I still don’t like them.

I   What kind of therapy did you have? How long did it take?

J   Probably about six weeks. I went to the therapist’s office and he used a kind of hypnosis. He made me go back to that first incident with the spider and the TV, and we talked about it again and again, until it wasn’t so frightening. And then in the last session, he brought in a spider in a jar, into the room, and he made me hold the jar. I couldn’t put the spider on my hand, but that was a great improvement, because before I couldn’t even look at a drawing of a spider in a children’s book, and I certainly couldn’t look at photos of spiders.

I   Wow. Amazing.


I   Do you have any phobias?

C   Erm, yes, I have a phobia of buttons.

I   Buttons on clothes?

C   Yes. I don’t like touching them.

 And how long have you had the phobia?

C   All my life, I think. For as long as I can remember.

I   Do you know what happened to start the phobia?

C   I don’t know exactly, but my mum has told me that when I was very little, about six or seven months old, she tried to dress me in a cardigan, a woollen cardigan with buttons that my grandmother had made for me, and apparently I screamed and screamed until she took it off again.

I   OK. And how does the phobia affect your life?

C   It really affects the kind of clothes I can buy, especially in the winter, when I need a coat – there aren’t many coats that don’t have buttons. But it’s better than it was: when I was younger, I refused to wear anything that had buttons, so for example, my mother had to adapt my school uniform so that there were no buttons.

I   Have you had any therapy?

C   No, no. I haven’t had any therapy. It seems such a silly thing to be afraid of.

I   What about if other people are wearing clothes with buttons on – is that OK?

C   Well, if the buttons aren’t touching me, that’s fine, but I don’t like hugging people that have buttons on their clothes.

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