Fear of failure (atychiphobia)

Fear of failure (atychiphobia)

Fear of failure, or atychiphobia, occurs in all ages and is related to a lack of self-confidence. As a result, you develop negative thoughts and you can end up in a downward spiral. Fortunately, fear of failure can be treated successfully.

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What is fear of failure?

People with this condition often think that they are incapable of doing something and they are afraid that things will go wrong. They also often think that nobody is interested in them. They lack self-confidence. Fear of failure is one of the most common forms of anxiety. It is common among children and young people and has a major impact on life.

Different forms of fail of failure

There are various types of this condition, for example positive fear of failure and negative fear of failure.

Positive fear of failure means that someone finds something very exciting, but also sees it as a challenge. The person is mainly focused on achieving success and the result is often better than expected. During the task or difficult situation, most of the tension disappears and is converted into concentration, for example. Although this form is labelled as 'positive', the person does experience stress and has many negative thoughts beforehand.

Negative fear of failure means that someone sees a situation as difficult or threatening, and as something that should be avoided. The person feels obstructed and prefers to 'walk away' from the situation. He / she only thinks negatively ('I cannot do it; I cannot manage it'). The tension is often so great that a person achieves less than he / she is actually capable of.

We also distinguish between cognitive fear of failure, social fear of failure and emotional fear of failure.

Cognitive fear of failure is a fear of failing at performing tasks at school or work. For example, young people and children are afraid of not performing well enough. Days before a test or an exam, they may already be plagued by stomach aches. During the task or situation, an obstruction or blockage occurs, and sometimes the youngsters shut down completely.

Social fear of failure occurs in a group or in one-on-one situations. A person is afraid to make contact and is very concerned about what others think of him or her. Those with a social fear of failure have low self-esteem, little self-confidence and are sub-assertive.  They find it very difficult to stand up for themselves and say 'no'. Instead, they want to please everyone.

Emotional fear of failure means being afraid of showing emotions. Young people and children who are socially skilled can still have a lot of trouble showing their emotions. They are afraid of being rejected and not being understood by others.

In extreme cases of fear of failure, a person worries excessively, is unable to sleep well and has blackouts or even panic attacks, for example. The fear of failure controls his / her life. In such cases, fear of failure can be labelled an anxiety disorder.

Characteristics and symptoms of fear of failure

Various complaints occur with fear of failure. The degree and severity of the complaints are different for everyone. The following complaints can arise: 

  • worrying, causing thoughts to become increasingly negative;
  • fear of not being able to meet the expectations of others, for example during a test or exam;
  • being afraid to participate in a conversation, being afraid of running out of words;
  • not daring to meet someone or dreading it very much.

 Other characteristics of fear of failure are:

  • excessive sweating;
  • feeling sick (nausea);
  • stomach cramps or stomach aches;
  • dry lips;
  • trembling or shaking;
  • being unable to think clearly.


Roychang was treated at Yes We Can Youth Clinics for her depression and anxiety disorder.

Treatment of fear of failure

At Yes We Can Youth Clinics, we teach young people to cope with their fear of failure and to overcome this fear, in order to be able to live and function in society in a fulfilling and meaningful way again. We are available 24/7 to help, support, motivate and confront young people at the appropriate time. Warmth, unconditional acceptance and trust are central to this, as they also are in our aftercare programme

Group sessions, system / family coaching and counselling and daily sports and outdoor activities are important components in overcoming fear of failure and coping with the other problems that young people have. Together, the treatment team and the young person set personal goals, using a step-by-step approach. This includes one-on-one sessions with the regular therapist, giving feedback to each other in the group, and participating in sports and games in a creative way.

The therapy also consists of cognitive therapy and fear of failure reduction sessions. Here, we teach the young people to be kind to themselves, instead of harsh. We also motivate them to work through their fear: to 'do and dare' instead of to 'think'. In this way, we try to give them back their self-confidence. The regular therapist has multi-disciplinary consultations with the other (care) professionals three times a day. This ensures that our care is always tailored to meet the needs of the young people.

Read more about our unique approach here.

Contact us

Yes We Can Youth Clinics can effectively treat teenagers and young adults who are suffering from a wide variety of mental health issues. If you have any questions, any at all, you can always contact us. We cannot stress enough that we are always there for you, whether you sign up for a treatment in our clinic or not. You can reach us by phone from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (GMT +1) via phone number: +31 (0)85 02 01 222. 

After business hours – weekdays after 6:00 p.m. and on the weekends – your call will be forwarded. Please note that it might take longer than usual to answer your call. If we cannot answer the call right away, please leave a message and we will call you back as soon as possible. You can also fill in our contact form.

Register for an intake interview

Would you like to register a teenager or young adult (aged 13-25) for a treatment at Yes We Can Youth Clinics? Please fill in our intake form and we will contact you to schedule a personal intake interview.

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Why it works

For young people aged 13-25, Yes We Can Youth Clinics offers 10 weeks intensive residential treatment. During the treatment there is also 4 days of family coaching & counselling for parents/carers. Upon completion, an extensive tailor-made aftercare programme will be devised, in collaboration with our partners all over the world.

Our unique approach