The Ever so Gentle Presence of Nothing
Imagine you're enjoying a pleasant afternoon tea at your favourite tea shop, all of a sudden you see it, that tiny little monster; a spider! Your heart starts pounding, your perspiring buckets, shaking like a leaf, right now life feels unbearable. Fortunately, as bad as it is, it will pass. Life will eventually return to some type of normality, at least until the next time! And unless you get it treated; there will be a next time!
So, how do you treat a phobia like arachnophobia? Well for sure, it is not always easy but occasionally it is exceedingly so. The reason being that the brain systems involved in the creation and maintenance of a phobia are the emotional memory systems that facilitate highly fearful experiences. These occur in the form of implicit memory activation (aka nondeclarative, procedural memory), a kind of engram that responds to a specific stimulus, the spider. This type of memory works below the radar of awareness. It's the same memory involved in playing the guitar without looking at the strings, tieing your shoelaces or even a necktie. It's also, in most cases, the last memory system to be affected by dementia. Its counterpart being explicit or declarative memory, the type you can and do recall, explain, analyse, rationalise etc. Of course, it too plays a role in many of our psychological problems but at least we feel we have a modicum of control over ourselves consciously. It is this memory system that allows knowing that the spider won't hurt us!
So how does this relate to a phobia? It's merely illustrative and a way to highlight the uncontrollable nature of these types of emotional memory, which are separate from the emotional events that created them. The probable pathway to a spider phobia often starts when we are very young, sometimes even before we are born! Imagine your mother has arachnophobia, you felt and heard it in the womb, this is because the foetus feels the mothers emotions and hears the world outside. Over the next few years, you observe your mother have a phobic attack, which sends you into a spin, your crying, distraught etc. This is simply because it is distressing for a baby to see their mother like that. Somewhere down the line, maybe when you're 3 or 4 years old, you discover the object of your mother's abject terror is this tiny little thing called a spider. This can eventually manifest in you developing a spider phobia too. I say 'can' because this is not always the case, which is in line with most psychological disorders. Some children, who are predisposed to developing a genetic, environmental or parental condition, do and others don't; C'est la Vie!
Because of the complexity of emotional mechanisms behind phobia development, it potentially puts it beyond the ability of the client to identify the initial sensitising event (ISE). Many hypnotherapists cite identifying the ISE as a prerequisite leading to healing or a cure. They define this, hypnotherapeutically, as getting to the root of the problem! However, in the above example, the initial sensitising event occurred in the womb. Everything beyond that point became a post-event, pre-language experience leading to a certain memory consolidation, which resulted in the development of the phobic response. Fortunately, we don't actually need to get to the initial sensitising event, sometimes, not even the root of it either. All we have to get to is a believable and/or plausible possibility, the brain will do everything else! If you have ever had a dream of falling, you will understand that the brain can let you have the terrifying experience of a total fantasy! The very same can happen in reverse, the fantasy of the most wonderful and empowering experience you have ever had; that's hypnosis! Phobias often respond well to this form of neurological reorganisation, after all, it's all in the mind? At a logical and rational level, every client I have ever worked with knows this. It's just that they only know logically, not emotionally, hypnotherapy crosses that cognitive/emotional barrier to provide the emotional solution!
How Does Hypnotherapy Help Phobias? Essentially it works by creating a new experience of a scenario that leads to the reconsolidation of the emotional memories associated with the trigger of the phobia. It matters little if it's a spider, needles or water, the same fear system gets activated. Beyond that, all that is needed is an explanation to better understand how hypnosis works and! you can read that here
The fears/phobias I see most often in my practice are:
|Animals||Injections / Needles|
|Being alone||Open Spaces (going out alone)|
How many sessions of therapy will be required?
The number of sessions needed to release a phobia varies person to person will depend upon many things, not least, the client's personality type. Their commitment, maturity, desire to overcome the phobia is important too. Other factors are, how deep-seated the phobia is and how long it has been in place. But the average for people I see is about 2 - 5 sessions. Occasionally it can be much longer, especially where full-blown panic attacks are occurring at seemingly random times and in diverse places. Happily, though, that is rare and in many cases, it can be relatively easy to let go of the phobia!
So, to find out how my hypnotherapy services can help rid 'you' of a life of terror, why not make an appointment for a free consultation? You have nothing to lose except your fear! You can discover more about the Free Consultation here!
Important Note: As a precursor to seeking help. First, consider having a chat with your doctor before contacting or visiting a therapist about the symptoms of your relating to your area of concern? You may have symptoms, 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 fear or a phobia, they can mimic those of organic causes. For that reason, they should be checked out by a medical professional first.