Thrive/Cure Your Emetophobia and Thrive

While I found there were pros and cons to the book, “Cure Your Emetophobia and Thrive” (see review below, under the “WOW”), I have since discovered the whole scam that is “Thrive.”

First of all Rob Kelly, who claims to be a “therapist,” has only a high school education. He writes “Cure Your Emetophobia” as an “evidence based” book and thus “the only “evidence based program to cure emetophobia.” The problem is that with no education, he clearly misunderstands the use of the term “evidence-based.” What it doesn’t mean is that one writes one’s own ideas and then, in 10th-grade-essay-writing style, cites some studies that appear to be related. What it does mean is that an independent, scientific study by a Ph.D. person is conducted according to strict rules for research design. The findings are then published in a scholarly journal after being peer-reviewed for accuracy.

Secondly, the book is self-published. Presumably because no self-respecting publisher would touch it because its author has no credibility.

What Rob Kelly is, is an internet-marketer who is savvy enough to spend all his time marketing his books and programs. Educated or not, he’s a marketing genius. Don’t let positive reviews on Amazon fool you – like any self-respecting scam artist he will have paid a lot of people to buy the book there and post a review.

The book is cheap enough not to cause any harm. But the problem I have is that the book pushes its “unsuccessful” readers to work with a “Thrive Consultant” for the obnoxious price of $2,000. And speaking of obnoxious, for the bargain price of about $20,000 TWENTY THOUSAND, anyone can become a “Thrive Consultant” From Thrive’s Website:

“You don’t need to have any specific qualifications in order to apply to become a Thrive Consultant®, as your suitability will be determined during an informal interview with Thrive HQ. The cost of the course is £7995, which includes all your mentoring and support.”

This makes Trump University look like Harvard in comparison. I apologize for the sarcasm, but nothing makes my blood boil more than people who take advantage of desperate emetophobics. Please, please don’t pay more than the $30 for Rob Kelly’s book. If possible, check it out of the library.

Apparently, in an ultimate act of MANSPLAINING, the Thrive Program can even cure your vaginismus, or too-tight-vagina.

“Cure Your Emetophobia And Thrive” Book Review by Anna Christie

First of all, I’d like to say that we can all learn something from just about anyone if we set our minds to it. This book was no exception. I also did not find anything in the book that was joltingly wrong or untrue although there were a few things I really hated. 


 – despite being self-published, the book is well-written and easy to understand. The author can write, and the copy (although not necessarily the content) was well-edited.

– a good overview of cognitive therapy generally and how it is used to help clients working to overcome phobias

 – a good general working knowledge of emetophobia

 – self-empowering (“This anxiety is not happening to me. I am creating it myself. I can calm myself down. I can do this.”)

 – general optimism about being able to overcome the phobia.

– I liked this line: “Emetophobes are not afraid of ‘it’ – they’re afraid of their huge, catastrophic, emotionally over-the-top reaction to ‘it’.” 

– he’s quite right that the way you think is extremely unhelpful, and probably inaccurate as well. All thoughts should be tested for accuracy and helpfulness. (For example, does the thought “what if I catch it and get sick?” help you in any way, shape or form?) 

– changing the thought “vomiting is horrible/awful/terrible” to “vomiting is a little unpleasant” to “I could cope with vomiting” is the key to recovery (agreed!)

– at around $35, the book is pretty accessible to just about anyone. If you don’t get anything out of it at all (which would be unusual) you haven’t spent much. Some “cure” programs on the internet are as high as $3000.


 – The title. A phobia is not a disease hence there is no “cure.” Phobias are a firing of the panic systems of our brains, when something which once caused us great distress (usually in childhood) is triggered. We learned to be afraid. Avoidance keeps us afraid. Learning to think differently about vomiting and to respond differently by slow breathing, relaxing major muscle groups, etc. if practiced a great deal will end the panic response almost completely. A “cure” is a something like an antibiotic for pneumonia or surgery for appendicitis where the sufferer doesn’t have to do any work at all. 

 – The author appears to have no proper credentials, despite the fact he claims to be a psychotherapist. I Googled him at great length and did not find any degree or diploma that he has. He has “attended” an online university in the U.K. but doesn’t say he ever graduated.

 – the book is self-published. Probably because of the point above. Publishers don’t print books written by people with no proper credentials. This calls into question all sorts of ethical issues when he speaks of his own clients, how well they’ve done, what they’ve said, etc. My ethical guidelines as a registered therapist, for instance, prohibits me from even asking a client, current or previous, for a “testimony.” He claims to have done “studies” but clearly didn’t use a random sample nor a control group. Nothing about his study suggests there was a “double-blind” aspect to it, nor were variables controlled. Anyone with a doctorate would have known better. The subtitle suggests it is “research based” but while he quotes numerous scientific studies (and footnotes them), his interpretation of the facts in these studies is often just finding a way to justify what he already believes to be true.

– each chapter contains a part of his theory such as “coping styles”, “locus of control”, etc. and the author puts in a questionnaire for the reader to evaluate his or her ____ (fill in the blank). The problem is that the questionnaires fail scientific tests for validity and reliability. Again, if the author had a Masters or Doctorate he would not be creating little questionnaires like these with no proof that they actually reflect what he’s trying to prove or hold up as being reliable across a variety of participants. So if you’re working through the book, don’t put too much stock in the “type” of whatever you turned out to be on his questionnaire. You might not be that type at all. For example, he seems quite anti-religion (without knowing anything about it). So if you’re religious he will throw you in the same category with people who believe if you spill salt you must throw it over your shoulder or terrible things will happen to you. While this is true for some religious folks in some of the major world religions, it is not universal and it is quite offensive that he has deemed it so.

 – the book is a bit over-simplified, and it doesn’t help that the author allegedly has people “cured” of the phobia in 2 weeks time. By this I mean that the average emetophobe may become very discouraged when s/he doesn’t see the same results. Example: “Tell yourself you are capable of tolerating any feelings of discomfort without resorting to avoidance.” Easy for him to say!

– Some of his theory comes dangerously close to “blame-the-victim.” For example he advocates saying “I am making myself ill/afraid.” He seems to believe this about physical illness as well. This can belittle, minimize and invalidate a person’s legitimate physical or psychological illness. Why did all these people get “cured” in 2 weeks and I’m no better? I must be a terrible failure!

– he believes there is “no such thing as addiction.” Glad I’m not reading his book on addiction and wondering why I can’t quit smoking in one day!

– he advocates that significant others say something like “I’m sorry you’re anxious but this is all about how you’re thinking. You can cope; you’re creating that anxiety and you can change it.” WOW. Talk about cold, thoughtless and unfeeling! Again, easy for him (and them) to say! There are such better ways for significant others to lend support. 

– he uses Cognitive, but not Behavioural therapy techniques. While it might be good news to phobics that they don’t ever have to actually face anything they’re afraid of, no matter how slowly and gently they do it, the science doesn’t hold up. CBT has been proven in many many studies to be more effective, and for longer than cognitive therapy alone. Don’t forget “behavioural” work is not just gradual exposure. It’s learning how to breathe, how to relax, how to get back “into” your body again. While CBT for emetophobia does NOT mean you have to vomit, you can still benefit greatly by slowly stopping avoiding what you fear (for example, leaving the house without your “safety” kit). 

– he claims all of his clients have the same personality types, yet I’ve never seen this in my own clients. People are as different as snowflakes. It’s their brain function that’s the same, and the same approach will work to correct that in most of them in a general sense but each person often needs a very tailored approach in a particular sense.

– the “Action” sections at the end of each chapter amount to little more than “stop doing/being like that.” But if you don’t know how to, you’re back at square one.

The book is far too long (350 pages), but that’s what happens when you don’t have an editor. Yet I didn’t resent ploughing through it. I learned some things from Mr. Kelly and I appreciate that he wrote his experiences and theories down to try to help emetophobics. There isn’t much out there on the topic of emetophobia and I am thankful for any resource whatsoever that isn’t harmful (and this one isn’t). I encourage emetophobics to read the book and see what you might get from it. For most it will be worth the investment of time and money. 

Change That’s Right Now

~ by Christine, an emetophobia sufferer.

“Intrigued by the claims on their website and desperate for a “cure” for my debilitating emetophobia, I contacted the CTRN. I felt pressured to speak with “Shelley” by phone instead of having all my questions answered via email, which is what I would have preferred.  This is identical to insurance companies who will not give you a quote by phone and instead send a salesperson to your home – more chance of “closing the deal” this way.  It worked.I asked if their CD program works for emetophobia.  They told me it probably wouldn’t work so well for this particular phobia and really pushed the much more expensive one-on-one sessions by telephone which they guaranteed would definitely work. I could not afford the $2500 cost for this, so I opted to start with the CD program since it came with an unconditional money back guarantee – what could I lose?  They were right, the CDs did nothing but teach me to “relax.”  I found the entire CD program silly and insulting to my intelligence.  You have to listen to it to know what I mean.  So, desperate for help, and “sucked in” by their “typically the one-on-one takes only a few sessions to rid you completely of your phobia but we’ll work with you for as long as it takes without charging more” (I’m paraphrasing), I paid the $2500 I could not afford, and began the personalized telephone sessions, excitedly anticipating complete freedom from my fear.

I put my absolute all into doing this “right” because I wanted to get my money’s worth – and I wanted to be cured! The one-on-one telephone version of the Change That’s Right Now is just the CD version expanded – nothing more.  It’s a combination of NLP and visualization – doing things like working yourself up to a “feel good” state and then repeatedly squeezing your thumb to “anchor” that feeling.  The theory is, when you’re having a panic attack, you just squeeze your thumb and …. voila! …. you feel great!  Oh if only it were that easy!  All I got from this was a sore thumb. Initially I did feel better overall.  In retrospect, this was nothing more than a placebo effect – a result of being brainwashed by their repeated mantra: “you have to give this 100% for it to work.” Translated:  “Just believe” and “If this doesn’t work, it’s YOUR fault.”  Nobody wants to feel like a failure so of course I felt better at first.  However, when the real test came – when I was faced with a situation that triggered my emetophobia, all that expensive one-on-one therapy did NOTHING. I finally gave up because even though they will work for me for “as long as it takes” why would I want to continue wasting my time on something that doesn’t work?  I suppose if a person has a very mild phobia, or generalized anxiety, this program could work.  However, if, like me, your emetophobia is extreme and debilitating, you may want to spend your money and time on something that does not claim to be a quick fix.

by “Unnerved”- an anxiety sufferer
This program definitely has the most aggressive sales pitch of any that I have looked in to. Videos on every page. Testimonials from “prominent” media figures. Worldwide acclaim. Promises of results in 24 hours. Rebates and guarantees. It must be the answer, right? Wrong!
Out of every program that I have researched and purchased, this is the worst…read more

How to Handle Emetophobia

by Anette Svedberg

by Anna Christie, Psychotherapist

Anette Svedberg wrote to me and asked if I would review her e-book How to Handle Emetophobia. I informed her at the time that she would get a brutally honest review and she welcomed that. Sometimes you should watch what you pray for.

When it comes to emetophobics, I think of them as I do my own children: I’m fiercely protective. Anyone who attempts to exploit them sees the “mother-bear” in me come out, so I apologize in advance if my review seems overly-harsh.

How to Handle Emetophobia is a 29-page e-book that is downloaded into .pdf format and sells for $22USD. The “book” would have been better as a blog or an article­­ perhaps – the story of the author’s battle with emetophobia and the thinking that may have contributed to her success in overcoming it. As such, it would have been shorter, properly edited and most importantly, free – which I would suggest is the only appropriate price for it.

I hope I am right in assuming that English is a second language for Svedberg, who works as a cleaner in a hospital in Sweden. Only with that assumption can I forgive the atrocious grammar and writing style. And I would forgive it, if the content were of any value – which unfortunately it isn’t. With no educational credentials or research citations, Svedberg attempts to tackle difficult subjects such as the human brain, evolution, psychology, microbiology and statistics. As a result her conclusions vastly miss the mark.

I compare this work with The Emetophobia Recovery System written by Rich Presta, also a recovered phobic and not an academic. Yet Presta has really done his homework: the research is sound and he’s also gone to a lot of trouble to consult with and even interview psychologists and other professionals, making the work credible. He’s also had it properly edited.

I’m sorry to say I would have to warn emetophobics away from How to Handle Emetophobia, not only because it is over-priced, poorly thought-out and badly written but also because some of the writing is rather graphic – such as the story of the author vomiting on the couch one Christmas. Emetophobics tend to get re-traumatized when they read such things or at the very least feel worse afterward.

In short, I do not recommend How to Handle Emetophobia but I do encourage Svedberg to write her stories and ideas on a blog. Blogs like that are always interesting. 

Emetophobia Recovery System

Anna Christie writes:

Rich Presta is a layperson who once suffered from a debilitating phobia of driving coupled with general anxiety. As his wife is a psychologist and he an internet marketer, they developed three programs to recover from driving phobia, general anxiety and emetophobia. Rich is also the owner/admin of, the largest online forum for emetophobia where I am a moderator. Rich contacted me to read through and listen to the program before he published it as well as recommend some psychologists he could interview and record for it. The program is under $100 and if it isn’t helpful he’s really great at returning your money. For these reasons, I agreed to be an affiliate for the program.

by Steve, an emetophobe
I purchased a copy of it. If you are prepared to take mental steps against your phobia, then it can definitely help. It’s not a quick fix, but compared to therapy it’s so inexpensive.  

Affiliate Link

by Kim, an emetophobe
I just bought this last week, and it has some great information and exercises to help with this phobia. I have just read through the manual, and used a couple of the suggestions while going out, and they really worked for me. It seems important that the steps are followed to get the most out of what the program offers. Also, I have a feeling that it may be easier/harder for some depending on where you are with really wanting to overcome your fears. The program really makes sense to me though, and i am looking forward to really beating this thing. 

by Alexandra, an emetophobe
I got it, but I couldn’t really get into it. I think it was more because I was in too bad of a place to even really sit down and read or listen to the CDs than anything wrong with the product. BUT….I did get my money back, so that should reassure anyone who wants to try it that it’s no scam. 

Living With Emetophobia: My Story

Review by Anna Christie, Psychotherapist

Caroline Dowdall contacted me to review her book, and was kind enough to send me an e-copy.

This is a small self-published book of only 100 pages. It is an autobiographical account of the author’s life with emetophobia. Ms. Dowdall has not been successfully treated for the phobia, although her symptoms have diminished over time. She says that her main goal in writing was to help emetophobics’ families understand the phobia. Unfortunately it contains no scholarly or scientific facts and is simply a narrative account by one person who often makes broad-sweeping statements and generalizations.

While I found the book interesting, I do not recommend it for emetophobics mainly because of the graphic descriptions of vomiting in it. I am concerned that they may re-traumatize themselves. But also, I found the book sadly devoid of hope. And there is plenty of hope. Hundreds of emetophobic people find treatment and relief from their anxiety, and they go on to lead normal, healthy and happy lives. It’s time one of them wrote a book for a change!

When A Child’s Anxiety Takes Over

Review by Anna Christie

This is a wonderful book by Micheline Cacciatore. She is a great story-teller, and thus the book is quite a page-turner. I was on the edge of my seat reading it, and finished the book in one sitting (It’s also only 100 pages). 

Every parent who is at the end of his or her rope with an emetophobic child will find solace that this author has “been there” and that there is light and hope at the end of the tunnel. 
It is a triumphant story of heroism, for the mother and daughter alike!
It nicely outlines the method of CBT that this particular therapist/clinic engages in. It is heavy on the behavioral (exposure) but touches also on the cognitive (changing one’s thoughts). 
I love that this parent persevered through tantrums and anxiety attacks by no longer providing reassurance to her daughter. Reassurance does keep the phobia in place, and this story shows how that was true, and how quickly the child got better when reassurance was no longer provided. Of particular interest was the fact that the child tried to convince her mother that therapy was no longer needed and she could face situations on her own from now on, but the therapist was sharp enough to recognize that this was yet another “avoidance” behaviour. She stuck with the therapy, with great results. 

The book is self-published, so lacks some careful editing which would greatly improve it. For example, I would have liked to have read more about what the daughter was like before succumbing to the huge anxiety of emetophobia. Cacciatore touches on it, but it would have been nice to flesh that out a bit.
The particular clinic and therapist who treated this child obviously believe in a rather harsh method of CBT. This, alone, might scare away some parents as well as some adult patients who are terrified of confronting their (or their child’s) fear in this way. It does not always have to be like this. A slower, gentler method IS possible, however it takes more time and thus costs more as well. This therapist had to spend several hours at once with this child and see her several times a week at first. Although this fast-tracks the recovery, it’s pretty darn scary (as the reader will witness). Having said all that, Cacciatore’s story shows just how effective it is in terms of recovery to force a child (or oneself) to face situations of which they are terrified. When they do, as the scientific evidence shows us, their anxiety will always, ALWAYS go down. 

This is a great book for parents to help them understand what both a child with emetophobia goes through, as well as how CBT works to help him or her overcome emetophobia.