Emetophobia – Fear of Being Sick

Emetophobia is the fear of being sick or the fear of vomiting and some people refer to it as vomit phobia.

Despite estimates that Emetophobia may affect up to 5% of the population, it remains largely unknown because most sufferers feel so “silly” or “embarrassed” about it that often they will not even tell their partners about it for several years!

Although Emetophobia seems to be more prevalent in females, it certainly does affect males and we have helped a number here in our clinic.

The majority of Emetophobia sufferers consult us between the ages of about 21 & 30.

It is unusual for Emetophobes to seek help when they are much older than this, usually because they have learnt to cope with it up until that point and are able to get on with their lives without too much interference.

Fortunately, Paul has expert knowledge of both how Emetophobia is formed as well as offering an evidence-based approach to overcoming it.

This method is based on an understanding of the causes and factors which maintain Emetophobia behaviours and is based entirely on 100% empirically supported processes for creating changes in those factors.

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Emetophobia Symptoms & Behaviours

  • Fear of Being Sick oneself
  • The fear of other people being sick
  • Social anxiety about being sick in public
  • Avoidance of Alcohol
  • Avoidance of anybody who has been ill recently
  • Catastrophising language patterns
  • Obsessing about food being cooked properly
  • Obsessive cleanliness
  • Control issues
  • The use of stomach settlers
  • Obsessive thinking about germs (Norovirus)

In fact, Emetophobia can present itself in a whole host of different ways, but whichever form of Emetophobia you happen to suffer with, our research-backed & evidence based CORE programme can help you (see below).

Common Factors in Emetophobia

The majority of Emetophobia sufferers will almost certainly be able to ‘pin-point’ a time in their lives when they were sick, and that it was ‘so bad’ that it has subsequently developed into this phobia.

Whilst it is understandable that people want to be able to identify a certain event that ‘created’ their phobia, there is very little evidence to support this notion.

Most people who have a phobia of flying in a plane have never been involved in a plane crash!

Having worked with a large number of Emetophobia sufferers here in the West Midlands there are a number of common ‘factors’ that we see that are more related to the development of this phobia, including the following observations:

  • Sufferers generally have a very high ‘desire for control’ and may even have associated OCD problems.
  • They will frequently exhibit a ‘catastrophic’ thinking style, often learnt from a catastrophic parent.
  • They tend to use lots of safety behaviours such as frequent hand washing, avoiding alcohol and checking sell-by-dates on food.
  • They often exhibit a high degree of ‘learned helplessness’ and believe that they can never overcome emetophobia.
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Maladaptive Coping Mechanisms in Emetophobia

A common problem that people experiencing Emetophobia symptoms have is that their threat responses or coping strategies may no longer be relevant to the current context or time in which they live.

Unfortunately, human beings have a built-in tendency to repeat behaviours that are supposed to provide benefits without questioning whether or not they still make sense.

We call these behaviours ‘habits’ and habitual behaviours require very little conscious activation as they are generally performed ‘automatically’ at a sub-conscious level.

Habitual coping strategies and threat responses that are no longer coherent in the current context are known as post coherent adaptations and are, in most cases, the principal cause of the emotional distress being experienced at the present time.

Psychosocial Therapy for Emetophobia Banner

PTMF Psychotherapy for Emetophobia

We offer a range of psychotherapy options for Emetophobia all of which adopt a psychosocial perspective.

What this means is that we will help you to understand and solve your Fear of Being Sick from the point of view of what has happened to you and NOT what is wrong with you.

This approach is known as psychosocial therapy and here at Lee Psychology we help our clients to achieve a more meaningful and lasting recovery by using the British Psychological Society’s Power Threat Meaning Framework which rejects the idea that emotional distress is an illness.

This new approach stands in stark contrast to the biomedical models of mental illness used widely throughout the psychiatric and medical communities despite the almost total absence of any underlying scientific evidence in support of their position.

The psychosocial approaches to Emetophobia, on the other hand, are built upon a significant base of clinical and empirical evidence established over the last 20 years.

Core Programme for Emetophobia on PC Screen

The CORE CBT Programme for Emetophobia

The CORE CBT Programme was devised and written by Paul in 2020 and combines all the best elements of CBT with additional knowledge drawn from research in Personal Construct Theory, Attribution Theory, Self-Determination Theory and Social Constructivism.

It is particularly well-suited to anxiety related problems such as Emetophobia due to the prevalence of cognitive ideation in the creation of phobic responses.

It is a 10 module course normally taken over a 10 week period with weekly hour long counselling sessions (either face-to-face or using Zoom), but can also be followed as a ‘teach yourself’ course for those with more manageable levels of anxiety.

Free Initial Consultations for Emetophobia Banner

Want To Find Out More?

If you’d like to find out more about overcoming or recovering from Emetophobia or the Fear of Being Sick then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular problems and the potential solutions in a safe and confidential environment without you having to commit to any counselling programmes or sessions going forward.

It is our view that not only do you need to decide whether the Lee Psychology approach suits who you are and what you have been through, but also whether or not you feel you will be able to work effectively with us as individuals.

Contact Paul

You can contact Paul on:

07434 776125

or by e-mail at:


Contact Joan

You can contact Joan on:

07434 776504

or by e-mail at:



Hypnotherapist Joan Lee D. Hyp. MIAEBP

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Lee Psychology, Maypole House, Yew Tree Court, Wombourne, South Staffordshire, WV5 9JB.

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