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Hot day. Working in the garden in your sandals. Moving some dirt around. Look down, and somehow, a dozen worms have dropped onto your basically barenaked feet. Oh, and they’re wriggling and crawling or whatever passes for crawling… would that be slithering?

Yes, you know worms are good for the garden, and they make robins fat, and they’re how you tell who’s the early bird, but you don’t care, because you have “Scoleciphobia,” or an irrational fear of worms. And yes, you know all fear of worms are irrational, unless you live on the planet Dune, at which point it’s perfectly rational.

People with Scoleciphobia have an extreme fear of worms, which manifests itself with nausea, elevated heart rate, and trembling. Some people feel as if the worms were crawling on them, and, can react with constant washing, much like we would see in people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

But it’s treatable with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, which often employs exposure therapy as part of its therapeutic tool kit. In exposure therapy, you might start by looking at cartoon images of a worm, graduating to real pictures, being able to stay in the same room, and, ultimately, holding one, then many worms.

To talk to a CBT therapist, look at our directory 

Related Information

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that is based firmly on research findings.  It places emphasis on changing your cognitions (thoughts) or behaviors (actions) in order to effect change in how you feel. These approaches help people in achieving specific changes or goals.

Changes or goals might involve:

A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like reducing back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Cognitive behavioral therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life. CBT is an effective treatment for individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. The goal of CBT is to help people improve and gain more control over their lives by changing behaviors that don’t work well to ones that do.

How to Get Help

If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet. You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner. It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist. It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees. They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association. Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state. You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations. You may, of course, visit our website ( and click on “Find a CBT Therapist”

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition. These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.