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How to help someone overcome needle phobia.

Updated: Apr 23, 2019


According to studies more than 20% of people fear needles.

If you are anything like me you would be running for the hills when the doctor said you needed an injection.


Needle phobia is the extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. It is occasionally referred to as aichmophobia or belonephobia.


A GSL participant was recently supported to overcome her fear of needles.


An 8-week intervention program was completed where the outcome showed that the participant got accustomed to needles through gradual exposure. The initial step consisted of putting various tasks of addressing needle phobia into a hierarchy. The client was asked to place the least distressing task (watching a video of someone getting a needle) at the bottom of the hierarchy and the most distressing task (getting a needle) at the top of the hierarchy. The remaining tasks were sorted in between according to the distress level the participant felt. The participant also picked out a big reward for when she completed the final step.


Over the course of the intervention, the participant went through each task and rated her distress levels on a scale of 1 to 10 at the start and at the end of the session. If her distress levels were still high at the end of the session, further desensitising techniques were used to help make the task less frightening. During each session, the participant was taught coping skills such as controlled breathing and relaxation techniques, as well as perspective taking. The participant found that controlled breathing and using an oil timer to assist with her breathing were helpful.


The second last step consisted of the participant visiting QML pathology to meet with the nurse who would be drawing her blood, so as to gain familiarity. A role play activity was also done in preparation at the clinic.


In the final step where the participant got the needle, the coping skills practised over the last few weeks were used, and a lot of encouragement and praise was provided. This resulted in a successful blood sample drawn and the participants distress levels lowered.


Well done Rachel. May your method help many parents and carers and I guess reciever of said needle.

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