One-Week Intensive Program for Specific Phobias

Aside from the typical treatment we provide, consisting of one-hour sessions once a week, we also offer a number of condensed intensive programs. This treatment, a portion of which was featured on the Today Show and the National Geographic series on Phobias, is a highly specialized, very intensive form of therapy for people whose primary problem is excessive and disabling fear of a specific type of object, place, or situation (e.g., heights, driving, flying, certain animals, receiving an injection, having blood drawn, or seeing blood). This kind of problem is called a specific phobia. The program is similar to the One Week Intensive Treatment Program for Panic with Agoraphobia, except that it is typically conducted over a period of 4 or 5 days. Patients typically arrive in Boston on a Sunday, begin treatment on Monday, and are finished by Thursday or Friday. While they are here, they devote full time to the treatment. Much of the time (on the order of 10-15 hours) they are working with a therapist, but that is heavily supplemented with reading and other assignments. The goal is to have patients working independently of the therapist as early as possible. It is crucial that patients are willing to experience considerable anxiety, as well as panic attacks, during portions of the treatment, in order to overcome their disorder.

Is This Program Right for You?

To benefit from this program, your principal problem must be a specific phobia and you must be avoiding certain objects, places, or situations because of it. If you are not currently avoiding things, or if you are avoiding things because of panic disorder or social phobia rather than a specific phobia, this treatment is not appropriate for you. There are also some medical and other psychiatric conditions that would make this form of treatment inadvisable for you or detract from its effectiveness. Examples are substantial depression, psychotic symptoms, use of certain drugs or excessive alcohol, problems with comprehension, and medical problems that need stabilization or substantially limit your physical activity. We will do a diagnostic assessment to determine whether you are appropriate for the program from a psychological standpoint.

To take part in this program you must be able to travel to Boston and stay here during treatment. And as mentioned earlier, you must be willing to experience considerable anxiety and panic symptoms during the course of treatment. This is essential to your recovery. If you are not willing to do that, this treatment will not work for you. Even if this program is suitable for you, you should be aware that there are other effective treatments for specific phobias, including standard forms of behavior therapy that are typically conducted on a weekly basis over a period of two or three months. Our program was designed for people who do not have access to other forms of treatment, have not responded to them, or have time constraints.


The cost of an assessment  and treatment is $3,200 (a nonrefundable deposit of 20% of this fee must be paid a week prior to the start of the program).  The balance is payable at  the start of the first day of treatment. In addition, you will need to pay any costs necessary for the out-of-office work (for example, car rentals, transportation fares, other costs of travel away from the clinic, or admission fees) for both yourself and, if the therapist needs to come along, for the therapist. If you stay in a hotel while you are in Boston (which we recommend that you do), we can assist you with reservations and may be able to get you a slightly discounted rate. We do not provide accommodations. We regret that we do not accept insurance and cannot guarantee that insurance companies will reimburse you for the program. However, we will be glad to provide a statement that can be submitted to insurance companies.

Screening Procedure

Because of the significant cost and effort the intensive program entails, we want to be sure that the persons we accept are good candidates for this form of treatment. To help us evaluate that, we do a careful assessment by telephone before we offer treatment. The assessment begins with a telephone screen by one of our staff. Persons who are interested and appear appropriate after that screen will be contacted by one of our staff (generally the person who would be your therapist) to arrange a detailed diagnostic interview by phone. Following that interview, we can talk to you knowledgeably regarding treatment. We regret putting you through so many hoops, and we hope you will appreciate that it will be to your benefit in the end, and may save you from wasting your time and additional money.

We urge you to consider carefully whether this is the kind of treatment you want. If you have any doubts, it probably would be better for you to start with a more standard form of therapy closer to where you live. But if you think this kind of program is right for you, you can get more information or start the screening process by calling us at (617) 353-9610, or by emailing either Bonnie Brown (our nurse administrator) or Todd Farchione, Ph.D. (program coordinator).