Kleptophobia – Fear of Stealing

Kleptophobia is the Fear of Stealing and can cause significant anxiety and stress for those who suffer from it.

The fear of Stealing could be the result of childhood adversity but is more likely to be a learned behaviour as the result of a parent having the fear themselves.

The unique meanings that people attribute to early life experiences depends on a wide range of psychological, socio-economic and cultural beliefs each influencing the types of coping strategies that people develop.

There is no scientific evidence that Kleptophobia is the result of any kind of biological fault or chemical imbalance in spite of the traction that these biomedical models of mental illness are given in the media.

On the contrary, Kleptophobia is much more likely to be the result of the sufferers subjective evaluation of what happened to them in the past and is therefore a psychosocial phenomenon.

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Kleptophobia Symptoms & Behaviours

The symptoms of Kleptophobia are very similar to other specific phobias and often include the following feelings or behaviours:

Within the Power Threat Meaning Framework, the symptoms of Kleptophobia may be better thought of as threat responses and coping strategies that sufferers adopt in order to cope with the immediate problem.

Unfortunately, when faced with threats such as the Fear of Stealing, not everybody adopts threat responses that are ‘adaptive’ to the situation and may frequently choose approaches that end up being more harmful to mental and physical health in the longer term.

Despite this obvious paradox, it is important to recognise that nobody deliberately chooses ‘maladaptive’ coping mechanisms that result in more harm than good.

The reason for this is that at some level, the choice of threat response made complete sense (was coherent) at the time the threat was originally experienced which may have been in childhood at a time when less personal resources were available.

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Maladaptive Coping Mechanisms in Kleptophobia

A common problem that people experiencing Kleptophobia 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.

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PTMF Psychosocial Therapy for Kleptophobia

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

What this means is that we will help you to understand and solve your Fear of Stealing 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 Kleptophobia, on the other hand, are built upon a significant base of clinical and empirical evidence established over the last 20 years.

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The CORE CBT Programme for Kleptophobia

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 Kleptophobia 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.

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FREE Initial Consultations for Kleptophobia

If you’d like to find out more about overcoming or recovering from Kleptophobia or the Fear of Stealing 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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