In Phobias, guest speaker John Clifford, a clinical hypnotherapist, helps students to explore the psychology of phobias.

The first session provides students with an introduction to a range of phobias from the common to the unusual, their symptoms and triggers, and a gives students a chance to ask John questions.

In the second session, the group will be introduced to phobia treatments, using the well-established ‘ZSL Friendly Spider Programme’ as a case study.  They will have the opportunity to take part in a hypnosis therapy demonstration, and experience a graduated exposure to an animal that often causes a phobic response.

Please note, a £125 fee for this session will be added to your booking.  This fee is extra to the entry ticket and ZSL education session fee charged per pupil for your visit.

A Red-kneed Tarantula at ZSL London Zoo.

Age group:  Years 12-13 (Post-16, AS/A2, Ages 16-18)

Duration: First session (11.30am) 30 mins, second session (1.30pm) 1 hour approx.

Availability: autumn, spring and summer terms.

Capacity: 50 students

Learning Space: Education Centre

Exam Board specification links:


AQA A Level Psychology A

Unit 4 (PSYA4): Psychopathology, Psychology in Action and Research Methods

Section A: Psychopathy

  • Candidates will be expected to:
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of one of the following disorders [phobias]
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of models, classification and diagnosis of their chosen disorder [phobias]


AQA A Level Psychology B

3.2 Unit 2 (PSYB2): Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology and Individual Differences

Individual Differences

3.2.5 Anxiety Disorders

  • Phobias: definition and symptoms. Agoraphobia, social phobias and specific phobias
  • Explanations of phobias including behavioural and psychodynamic
  • Treatments for phobias including systematic desensitisation and psychodynamic therapy


OCR A Level Psychology (H568)

3.3.2 A2 Unit G543: Health and Clinical Psychology


  • Characteristics of anxiety disorders (e.g. phobia)


EDEXCEL A Level Psychology (8PS01)

Unit 4 How Psychology Works

4.3 Clinical Psychology

  • d) For … one other disorder [phobias] describe the features and symptoms.
  • f) For one other disorder [phobias] describe and evaluate two explanations. Students must select one explanation each from two different approaches from the five studied in Units 1 and 2
  • h) For one other disorder [phobias] describe and evaluate two treatments. Students must select one treatment each from two different approaches from the five studied in Units 1 and 2


Intended learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  • List the symptoms and triggers of phobia
  • Describe treatments for phobia including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), hypnosis and graduated exposure.


For this session


Before your visit:


While at the Zoo:

  • Use this pre-visit information sheet and undertake the suggested activity onsite at the Zoo: PDF icon Pre-visit session info_Phobias 2015 (405.55 KB)
  • Visit the Reptile House and observe both the venomous and non-venomous snakes.  Make notes on the characteristics of these reptiles and suggest why they may cause phobic responses.
  • Visit the Bat House ( near the Meerkats and Otters) Observe the behaviour of the bat colony, taking note of their body shape, movement and lifestyle.
  • Visit B.U.G.S! and find the spiders and rats.  Think about how these animals make you feel and consider why your body reacts in the way it does to these types of animal.
  • Look at the tigers (Tiger Territory) and think about how these arguably more dangerous animals are less likely to cause a phobic response.  Why do people actively like looking at lions and tigers and why is phobia of these animals very rare?


After your visit:

  • Ask students to list the features and symptoms of a phobia.  How do each of the treatments discussed (e.g. hypnosis, CBT, graduated exposure) prevent these symptoms from occurring?