Between us, Anna and I have treated several hundred patients with emetophobia. But we have to turn down as many. We are distressed by all the requests we get for help and people just cannot find providers who have experience, desire, or expertise in treating this disorder. Anna and I both close our calendars to new clients periodically because we only have so much time. When we began to talk about writing something, I was thinking of writing a self-help book, but Anna thought we should write to help train more therapists. She was right, of course.
During the time we were writing several excellent self-help books have been released. Even five years ago there was precious little help available for this. This is so incongruous because emetophobia is estimated to impact millions of adults, teenagers, and children in just the English-speaking world. What is often not understood is that for many with this phobia, the effect is catastrophic. I am not employing hyperbole. People with this are afraid every day. They struggle to eat, interact socially, go to school, or function in the normal daily activities of life. Sufferers experience shame and end up struggling in secret. But this disorder can absolutely be successfully treated.
We were faced with the proverbial, ‘Should we give a fish or teach people how to fish?’ We hope our new book will ‘teach people (mental health providers) to fish.’ We have surveyed the existing research, compiled our shared clinical experiences, and searched for all the available resources. If you have written a similar book, you know you leave part of yourself on the keyboard.
We were privileged that the London-based Jessica Kingsley Publishers accepted our manuscript. It was released on April 21, 2023. As far as we know, this is the first book of its kind to outline the treatment process for this phobia. It is titled: Emetophobia: Understanding and Treating Fear of Vomiting in Children and Adults. It is available in both printed and digital versions. An outline of what is included can be found here.
We have created this companion website with all the corresponding steps that we outline in detail in the book. It is our plan to update it as we can with current and relevant information. We would love feedback from providers and patients. No treatment should remain stagnant but rather grow and improve as research and clinical experience direct.
Most experienced clinicians know that psychological diagnosis is something of a moving target. A missed diagnosis usually will not have a grave impact on proper treatment but emetophobia is one of the exceptions. It gets incorrectly diagnosed with striking frequency resulting in iatrogenic treatment. Understanding the symptoms and not mistaking them for something else alone is worth getting this book. This phobia has so many distinctive features that make treatment challenging compared to other anxiety disorders and it can go wrong without the right approach.
Our book is an appeal to providers to learn how to diagnose and treat this disorder. We hope even the most experienced clinicians can learn something new. There is not enough training for this. We could only find very few university classes that cover it. A replicable treatment manual is long overdue. We hope this book will be the impetus for further improving and expanding treatment as well as stimulating research with the end of improving the lives of children and adults with this phobia.
But you must get it and read it….