Phobia Free app provides a ‘fun’ way to tackle spider phobia

As mentioned earlier this week, Anxiety UK is partnering with Virtually Free to provide their new Phobia Free app at no charge for those who wish to get sponsored in a challenge to overcome their fear of spiders. You can read more about how to get involved here.

Anxiety UK supporter, Matthew Lennox, has test drove Phobia Free and recently shared his review with us.

Phobia Free is Virtually Free’s latest app available for iOS (Android to follow later), following on from their earlier app Stress Free. This application deals with helping people overcome various phobias they’re suffering with. Currently the app is in development and tackles the issue of Arachnophobia exclusively, though new content is due to follow tackling further phobias. There are however further sections including: various relaxation techniques for dealing with phobias in general; anxiety statistics to monitor your progress along the way; a journal which allows you to record entries as you progress; and a stars system which showcases how well you’ve performed various tasks and areas where you may need to improve upon. There are also various links to further resources and links to social networking sites allowing you to share your progress with others.

Dr Freeman introducing you to the app

So upon downloading and opening the app, you’re greeted with a colourful and playful menu system. At first glance it may appear to be somewhat confusing with its circular menu design, but soon becomes quite intuitive due to the clear notations, colour co-ordination and short descriptions for each menu option. So finding your way around becomes a lot easier quite quickly.

The app main menu

A short introduction welcomes you to the app and to animated character “Dr Freeman” who will guide you through much of the app.

In the section dealing with Arachnophobia, the app will guide you in overcoming your fear of spiders with the aid of a cartoon style animated spider character called “Itsy”. She’s very disarming, with her cute visual style, helping to bridge the gap between you as a user and the fear you’re attempting to overcome. Itsy will be your companion through various steps you’ll be asked to take to help you with your fears. The idea is to help Itsy and her spider friends with various problems they face in a fun game-like fashion, often playing the role of the spider itself in trying to survive perils, such as the vacuum cleaner.

Escaping the dreaded vacuum cleaner to reach the slippers

The tasks are generally quite fun, visually impressive and accompanied by sounds and music. The idea of all these game-like tasks is to work towards desensitising you from your fear of spiders by allowing them to be less imposing. For example one of the tasks involves augmented reality, where you’re asked to take a picture of your close surroundings, followed by the app then placing a virtual spider on your screen, as if there in reality.