People who are phobic automatically develop, in commonplace situations, fear and  distress that can intensify uncontrollably to cause unbearable feelings and  overwhelming panic. Contextual Therapy    finds that in all phobias these terrifying  developments are the result of an automatic, fear-generating process. This “phobogenic process” is  activated and accelerates as the person involuntarily reacts more  and   more to growing numbers of imagined dangers and less and less to comforting realities in the phobic situation.

If a trusted person is present or available in reality or in imagination, the phobic person can then react more to comforting realities and less to imagined dangers in the phobic situation. The level of fear then   drops or remains  controlled and panic is averted.

Recognizing the central role of the phobogenic process in  disorganizing body and mental functioning, it is hypothesized that  Contextual  Therapy slows  or  inhibits the phobogenic  process,  and   so stops  the  panic. It does this by creating conditions that reduce the person’s  disturbing reaction to unmanageable,imagined dangers and     builds up his comforting responses to manageable,  existing realities.  Mainly, this is achieved by creating a trusted, familiar therapeutic  presence  for  the patient to respond to realistically in the phobic    situation. Sometimes this is the therapist, or a recollection  of  him or of his  theory, or of ideas built with his concurrence. The operations    of  the phobogenic process are  then impeded and the rising panic  stops. New, constructive experiences and learning can then  take    place in the phobic situation from which more  realistic beliefs, expectations, and behavior can come.

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