A few years back, I was happily surprised when Anna Christie, B.A. M.Div., RCC emailed Dr. McCarthy and me about Turnaround, our anxiety program for kids. She was and is one of the premier specialists in the world for treating emetophobia. (This is a fear of vom**ing.) She put this on the map for clinicians and sufferers. If a therapist was treating this phobia, they were using her website. If a sufferer started to search using their symptoms, they would find her website.
Unbeknownst to her, I shared a passion for helping people with emetophobia. In one of the moments of “what do I have to lose”, I proposed the idea of writing together. I was thrilled when she expressed interest. We began assembling a book for mental health providers interested in treating this severely impairing disorder.
We were privileged that the London-based Jessica Kingsley Publishers accepted our manuscript. It will be released on April 21, 2023. As I write, that is tomorrow, but you will likely read this after it is out. As far as we know, this is the first book of its kind for this phobia. It is titled: Emetophobia: Understanding and Treating Fear of Vomiting in Children and Adults. It is available in both printed and digital versions. An outline of what is included can be found here.
Emetophobia is estimated to impact a hundred million adults, teenagers, and children in the English-speaking world. That is like every resident of London, New York, Hong Kong, Paris, Shanghai, Mexico City, and Kuala Lumpur combined having emetophobia. Help is NEEDED! What is often not understood is that for many with this phobia, the effect is catastrophic. I am not employing hyperbole. People with this are afraid every day. They struggle to eat, interact socially, go to school, or function in the normal daily activities of life. Sufferers experience shame and end up struggling in secret. But this disorder can absolutely be successfully treated.
This phobia has so many distinctive features that make treatment challenging compared to other anxiety disorders and it can go wrong without the right approach. Between the two of us, we have treated hundreds of people. We digested all the research available. We compared notes on our approach. We have done our best to combine the science with our extensive experience in a comprehensive guide for clinicians. Professor David Veale wrote in the foreward, “Anna Christie and David Russ provide a masterclass in helping us to understand what we know and how to treat emetophobia.”
We both get contacted by people all over the world asking for help. They often cannot find therapists who have the experience to treat emetophobia. In many places there are not enough providers, period, much less for this phobia. Our book is an appeal for more providers to learn how to diagnose and treat this disorder. There is not enough training for this. We could only find a very few university classes the cover it. Happily, understanding and help for emetophobia are finally growing but remain a fraction of what is needed. The last few years have seen a welcome increase in available resources. We have compiled books and resources listed here.
Anna and I have created an emetophobia website as a companion to the treatment program outlined in the book and is free to use. There are sections for adults and children as well as resources of all kinds.
If Dr. McCarthy and I get contacted by parents who use the Turnaround program for additional help, it is almost universally about emetophobia. As a result we created this supplement to go with Turnaround. I also have written a children’s book that is available on Apple books and on Amazon in kindle format.
We hope this book will be the impetus for further improving and expanding treatment as well as stimulating research with the end of improving the lives of children and adults with this phobia.