Fear Detergent

SOAP (Strategies to Overcoming Aquatic Phobias) and Water is for those afraid to go near or in water. It offers dry-land counseling and teaches strategies to overcome aquatic phobias for all ages in a compassionate and friendly atmosphere.

Related Article: SOAP Strategy, A Closer Look

The course content, approach and supportive environment provides emotional, mental and physical learning skills for those who are fearful or uncomfortable in or around the water. In addition, individuals are gradually introduced and exposed to the aquatic environment and taught in-water techniques and skills to enable them to learn to swim.


Ever since the tragedy of 911 I have noticed a significant increase in the number of children who have expressed and clearly exhibited a very real and powerful fear of the water. Coincidence, perhaps, but my thought is that there is a direct correlation between that horrific event and the changes that it has produced in our daily lives.

Not only are our children more unsure of the world around them, but there is a heightened sense of awareness regarding their fears and strategies that might be successful in helping them overcome them.

Fear is one of man’s most valuable and effective survival mechanisms. Without the ability for our minds to respond to impending danger we would endure a much greater frequency of injuries, hardships and fatal mistakes.

This process is especially important in children simply because most often they have not yet acquired the ability to reason, the knowledge to understand, the skills to adapt and a significant level of common sense.

If not for their fear factor and the adults that supervise them, our children would constantly be finding themselves confronted with dangerous situations that they would be unable to properly identify as potentially harmful.

Most fears, therefore, are healthy and should be appreciated for their role in our survival. However, when a fear becomes abnormal, such as in the case of phobias, they can have a powerfully negative impact on a person, especially a child.

A phobia is defined as any behavior that can described as abnormal under normal conditions. For example, most sound thinking people who visit the beach and observe surf conditions with 15-foot waves and a tremendous undertow, would understandably sense fear if they were confronted with the possibility of having to enter that water. Their heart rate would dramatically increase, the stomach would get queasy, they would begin to perspire, feel faint, muscles would begin to tighten and they might possibly begin to hyperventilate.

A person with an extreme fear of the water or an aqua phobic would experience these same symptoms when confronting a three-foot wading pool. This phobic response not only interferes with their ability to react normally in that moment, it impairs their need and ability to want to learn how to overcome that overwhelming feeling of fear.

That moment and others like it evolve into a person’s fear of the fear. The need to avoid that experience, no matter what the cost or ultimate sacrifice might be.

Children, who suffer from extreme fear of the water, aqua phobia, end up enduring much more than just an avoidance of water. This problem can have a huge influence on a child’s self-esteem, ability to problem solve, willingness to face and overcome obstacles and their overall social, physical and emotional fitness. Especially here in Florida, where water is everywhere and people take such an interest in an aquatic lifestyle, two very serious problems confront child aqua phobics and their families.

A child who fears water and never receives help probably will never learn how to swim, correctly anyway. This presents a clear and present danger considering how many opportunities this type of environment provides for exposure to water. Between the beaches, lakes, rivers and pools that saturate this area, it’s almost impossible to avoid them on a consistent basis.

A child who does not know how to swim is at a real disadvantage and at a loss to help themselves or others if the need ever arose to use aquatic skills in an emergency.

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