The Ever so Gentle Presence of Nothing
How Hypnotherapy Helps Phobias
People can be afraid of a wide range of things and what can be totally acceptable to one person can be quite panic provoking – or life-threatening - to another.
That panic-stricken feeling that defies all logic! But we are motivated by emotion; not LOGIC!
The fears/phobias I see most often in my practice are:
|Animals||Injections / Needles|
|Being alone||Open Spaces (going out alone)|
What is a phobia?
A phobia is any persistent exaggerated fear of a specific stimulus, object or situation. Phobia is from the Greek to fear or dread. It is more than a simple fear or being afraid. It is to be totally terrified of the stimulus. When presented with a phobia problem by a client, I always begin by finding out if it is a fear they have or a phobia. If their problem is spiders for instance, then can they imagine themselves holding a spider in their hand if they are rewarded with $100 or what about $500 and so on. If they could bear the spider for a large amount of money – or even a dare - for just a few seconds, they do not have a phobia, but rather fear. The person with a phobia of spiders would not be able to bear to touch one for any amount of money or any other reward. Some people are obsessive with their phobia. This means, they can’t even think of the stimulus, and it is likely to be controlling their lives.
Another complication is, the client can present with a fear/phobia of flying, for example, however, on exploring this with the client, may find it is actually about being enclosed, or locked in a confined space, or a fear of death, loss of control, etc. The flying is just a symptom and not the real problem. It is essential, in any treatment, that you treat the problem and not just the symptoms! Of course, you can get relief by treating the symptoms, but you will, likely as not, still have the problem!
What has caused the phobia?
All phobic responses are learned. A client will often say that nothing, as far as they know, has caused the phobia they have. It just started, they’ve always been afraid of dogs, etc. If one person is afraid of dogs and another isn’t, then clearly there is a difference between the two. One person has either been exposed to some causal event which has been repressed in the subconscious mind or has learned to be afraid of a parent or other authority figure at some time earlier in life. The causal event may not have been very traumatic at the time, but the young mind will have seen it out of the context that would be understood by a more mature mind in later years. It may have caused an emotional response and/or motor actions to be locked away, repressed, and the emotion and possible motor responses will have been locked away and anchored to the event. The subconscious mind can often set up, a kind of, false instinct, whereby any sign of the stimulus - or something resembling or associated with it - may cause a phobic reaction. This can then initiate the body’s fight or flight response and the individual may begin to panic (panic attack). The fear/phobia is a defence mechanism caused – by the unconscious mind - for the purpose of survival; the unconscious mind’s primary objective – survival of the species – in particular, YOU.
Hypnotherapy to relieve phobias
The first thing I do is to work with the client to discover the causal event, and once found, to desensitize the client from it. Once this has been achieved, then the hypnotic suggestion, metaphor and possibly Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) or EFT will be used to create a new reality for the client, so they can see the previously feared situation, object or circumstance in a new and non-threatening way, through a new lens as it where. If the causal event or events are not found and the emotion(s) not released, the phobia may resurface a later time with more intensity than before, if that is possible. EFT is particularly helpful with this aspect, as it allows the effective detachment of the emotion within the body’s meridian system (separating the emotion from the response).
The person with a phobia will need to be helped to find and review any trigger situations, to see it/them with an intellectual maturity and understanding, being able to see the cause in a different way and with a different and better understanding. The mind can relearn to see things in a different way and to accept situations as normal that would previously have been viewed as threatening. The phobic – negative – response was a learned reaction to perceived danger and can also now be unlearned once it sees the situation as normal/containable. The most wonderful (and at the same time most terrible) thing about the mind is, that it cannot tell the difference between real or false! After all, in most cases, people with phobias have never suffered any harm from the object of their phobia, just their own thought of it!
How many sessions of therapy will be required?
How many sessions will be needed to release a person from their phobia will depend upon many things, not least, the client's personality type, maturity, desire to overcome the phobia, and of course, how deep-seated the phobia is and how long it has been in place. However, the average for people I see is about 2-5 sessions. This can be much longer in some cases, especially where full-blown panic attacks are occurring at seemingly random times and in diverse places. And in other cases, it can be very easy to let go!
Always consult your doctor first and foremost before you contact or visit any therapist and tell him/her about any symptoms you may have, such as a headache, soreness in limbs, racing heart, dizziness, sweating, blurred vision, a feeling of being unwell, etc.
Although these are all common symptoms of someone suffering from fear, phobia, organic causes should always be fully checked out by a medical professional in the first instance.