Agoraphobia is described as an anxiety related problem. The person experiencing agoraphobia perceives certain places as dangerous. These situations often include wide open spaces, though not always. Uncontrollable social situations, such as shopping centres, airports and sometimes bridges. The agoraphobic person may also become anxious in places where they are not familiar with. Agoraphobia is a subset of panic/anxiety.
Persons who experience agoraphobia may go to great lengths to avoid the locations where they have previously experienced serious discomfort during an episode. Because of the avoidant behaviour this condition imposes on the person, devasting results of social and personal isolation can ensue. Work life and career opportunities can be missed, so also relationships can become stressful and some times fractured.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is now a recognised first line treatment for agoraphobia. After an initial assessment, the client will learn to use mindful meditation, so that the 'system' can be calmed down. Life Values are then used to facilitate the process of therapy. LIfe values are like setting one's compass to west and then following that direction as best one can for the remainder of one's life. Values such; family, relationships, friends or work can be compromised by the above condition. The ''enforced' behaviour of avoidance has a detrimental affect on all of these. Acceptance and acknowledgement that because we are human and alive we will always have thoughts and feelings. Defusion of thoughts and making room for distressing feelings are worked on in therapy. The ACT approach posits that we can have unhelpful thoughts and distressing feelings and at the same time we can move towards a valued and fulfilling life. Small and achievable goals are set at each session and worked by the client between session.