Learn How APT Can Help You to Process Your Emotions

Affect Phobia Therapy (APT) Services

Affect Phobia Therapy (APT) is a short-term dynamic psychotherapy that helps clients identify and process intense emotions — from rage, anger and terror to sorrow, longing and even attraction. It’s founded on the idea that the underlying cause of most psychologically based disorders is an internal conflict about feelings. 

Affect Phobia Therapy integrates techniques from Psychodynamic Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and Experiential Therapies to improve the effectiveness of the session between the therapist and the client. It can be helpful for the following areas:


Increasing self motivation


Improving sense of self


Cultivating self compassion


Creating healthy relationships


Facing fears and feelings


Overcoming trauma


Emotional dysregulation


Relationship challenges


Personality difficulties


Psychosomatic symptoms


Loss and grief


Developing healthy coping methods

Changing Emotions, Thoughts & Behaviours

Feelings and emotions (also known as “affects”) are the strongest motivators of human behaviour. They can contribute to healthy, flexible behaviour patterns — but they can also lead to unhealthy, dysfunctional behaviour patterns. 

Affect phobia is literally translated as the fear of feelings. If someone has internal conflicts with their emotions and responds to them in maladaptive ways, then they can develop what we consider dis-ease or a mental health challenge. 

While phobias are traditionally associated with things like spiders, heights and public speaking, it goes beyond that. For example, an individual with an aversion to grief might avoid feelings of sadness and become enraged instead. In turn, this can impact their close relationships, environment, self-worth and more. 

The person may continue to experience and act on their maladaptive feelings while avoiding the necessary grief-work to process their emotions. This can be either a conscious or a subconscious process to avoid the conflicted or uncomfortable feelings.  

In this example, an APT therapist can work with the client to experience a desensitization to the avoided emotion (ie. grief), while decreasing the associated negative feelings, such as shame or anxiety. 

Dr. Maneet Bhatia, Clinical Psychologist at Bhatia Psychology Group, is the only certificated Affect Phobia Therapist in Canada. Book your appointment or contact us for more information.

FAQs – Affect Phobia Therapy

Is Affect Phobia Therapy effective?

Yes. Over 30 years of research, including case series and randomized controlled trials, have demonstrated the effectiveness of APT.

How does Affect Phobia Therapy work?

Affect phobia is a fear of feelings. Through this lens, someone can find themselves in a situation where previous trauma, childhood difficulty or relational challenges can impact their ability to have a healthy emotional response. 

An APT therapist helps their client shift away from maladaptive emotions, behaviours and coping mechanisms to their opposite, adaptive versions This leads to a reduction in symptoms (such as anxiety and emotional dysregulation), as well as more satisfying relationships and improved productivity.

Who Created Affect Phobia Therapy?

Affect Phobia Therapy is an integrative model of short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy that was created by Leigh McCullough, Harvard Medical School psychologist and researcher (McCullough-Valiant, 1997).

Do you train other therapists in Affect Phobia Therapy?

Yes! As the only APT certified therapist in Canada, Dr. Maneet Bhatia also leads professional workshops for psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors, and psychiatrists. Learning objectives include:

  • How to define, diagnose, and treat an Affect Phobia
  • Understand why and how clients avoid specific feelings 
  • Distinguish between adaptive and maladaptive emotions and behaviours
  • Create a therapeutic plan that includes exposure and desensitization to the avoided feeling
  • Collaborate with clients to increase alliance and motivation for change
  • Use techniques to teach clients about the link between adaptive emotions and healthy behaviours
Bhatia Psychology stacked logo

Richmond Hill

9640 Bayview Ave #4
Richmond Hill, ON
L4C 9P7


105-11500 29th Street SE
Calgary, Alberta
T2Z 3W9

Call Now Button