Overcoming Coulrophobia with DBT Skills

The inexplicable fear of clowns, known as Coulrophobia, is more common than one might think. This phobia can stem from past traumas, the uncanny appearance of clowns, or even pop culture's portrayal of these characters. Regardless of its origins, the good news is that Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can offer tools and strategies to help individuals manage and potentially overcome this fear.

Understanding Coulrophobia

According to McGovern Medical School, coulrophobia is not just a mere aversion but a genuine and often intense fear. Understanding the root cause is the first step toward addressing it.

Origins of the Fear

  • Childhood Trauma: For some, an unpleasant encounter with a clown during childhood can lead to lasting fear.
  • Media Influence: Movies and TV shows often portray clowns in a negative, sometimes horrifying light, leading to a skewed perception.
  • Uncanny Valley: The exaggerated features of a clown can cause discomfort because they appear neither fully human nor fully artificial.

DBT Skills for Managing Coulrophobia

Dialectical Behavior Therapy offers a structured approach to dealing with intense emotions and phobias.


One of the core components of DBT, mindfulness encourages staying present. By focusing on the here and now, it can reduce the anxiety stemming from memories or anticipations associated with clowns.

Distress Tolerance

This skill teaches individuals to tolerate and survive crises without making the situation worse. For someone with Coulrophobia, it could mean attending a child's birthday party without panicking at the sight of a clown.

Emotion Regulation

Understanding and modulating one's emotions can be invaluable. Recognizing the fear as it arises and using techniques to calm oneself can lead to a more balanced emotional state.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Communicating one's fears and setting boundaries is crucial. This skill can help someone with Coulrophobia convey their discomfort to friends and family, ensuring a supportive environment.

Facing the Fear: Exposure Techniques in DBT

A significant element of DBT when addressing phobias like Coulrophobia is the concept of exposure. This method helps individuals confront and gradually become accustomed to the objects or situations they fear.

Gradual Exposure

Starting with less triggering instances can ease the individual into facing their phobia. For Coulrophobia, this might involve looking at images of friendly clowns or watching non-threatening clown performances on video.

Controlled Environment

Engaging with the fear in a controlled setting can be therapeutic. For instance, visiting a clown performance in a controlled, calm environment with a therapist or a supportive friend can make a difference.

Positive Reinforcement

After each successful exposure, rewarding oneself can reinforce the progress. It can be something simple, like a treat or a short relaxation break.

DBT Group Therapy: Shared Experiences, Shared Healing

The power of group therapy, a common modality in DBT, should not be overlooked for individuals dealing with Coulrophobia.

Shared Stories

Hearing others share their fears and successes can be both comforting and motivating. Knowing you're not alone in your fear can be a massive relief.

Group Exposure Sessions

Sometimes, facing a fear as a group can be less intimidating than doing it alone. Group exposure sessions can provide that collective strength.

Feedback and Strategies

Members can share strategies that worked for them, providing fresh perspectives and techniques to try.

The Path to a Clown-Friendly World

Coulrophobia, like any other phobia, has its roots and triggers. However, with dedication, understanding, and the structured approach of DBT, individuals can hope to navigate a world with clowns more comfortably. It's essential to remember that everyone's journey is unique. What works for one person might not work for another. But with patience and persistence, a world where clowns are seen as sources of joy and not fear is certainly attainable.

Grouport Offers Online Group Therapy & Online DBT Skills Group

Grouport Therapy
provides online group therapy for anger management, anxiety, borderline personality, chronic illness, depression, dialectical behavior therapy, grief and loss, obsessive compulsive disorder, relationship issues and trauma and PTSD. Our licensed therapists lead weekly group sessions conducted remotely in the comfort of members' homes. According to participant feedback, 70% experienced significant improvements within 8 weeks.

You don't have to face these challenges alone. Join our community and work together towards a brighter future. Sign up for one of our groups today and begin your journey towards meaningful, lasting change and renewed hope.

We also offer skills groups, such as our dialectical behavior therapy skills group. Our DBT Skills Group, is a therapist-led module driven group that will provide you new skills to replace behaviors and emotions causing friction in your daily life and relationships. It is excellent for interpersonal connections, building social skills concerning relationship issues, improving emotion regulation & distress tolerance, and developing deeper mindfulness.

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