Can Hypnosis Or Hypnotherapy Cure My Phobia?
This is a common question that crops up again and again.
Phobias used to take several months to cure using a system called systematic desensitisation. So if you had a phobia of spiders for instance, with this method you would be taken to see a spider, then a bigger spider after the first spider, and so on. Often, if you didn’t complete the therapy you could end up more scared than you were when you started.
This method is not a widespread as it once was and now there are many new and more effective techniques that can be used, such as the Fast Phobia Cure, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, often referred to as ‘Tapping’). Using these methods alongside hypnotherapy, most phobias can be cured, and much more quickly, sometimes in as little as just one sessions.
I can do sessions over Skype if you are not local to my practice. Please go to the end of the end of this page for more details on how to book your free initial consultation and find out more.
A phobia is an irrational fear, literally a fear without good reason, or a fear of something that may not even happen. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object. People with phobias can experience unwanted responses to animals, objects, insects, actions or places.
As well as restricting your day to day life, it can also be the cause of a lot of distress, and with a severe phobia you may well find yourself organising your days to avoid whatever it is that causes that distress.
Public speaking is one of the most common fears, known as “glossophobia” it is a very common social phobia. If you suffer from this the effects can be far-reaching as it may influence many areas of your life, from the university course you study, to your career path at work, promotion prospects etc.
According to a YouGov poll carried out in 2014, fear of public speaking was number 3 out of 13, with 20 per cent of participants being very afraid, and 36 per cent being a little afraid. And, interestingly, the status also revealed that women are over twice as likely to be ‘very afraid’ of public speaking compared to men.
Fear of snakes came in at number 2 – explained as humans have evolved their fear of snakes over many years in order to avoid being bitten by one.
And fear of heights came in at number 1, which is not so surprising since falling from a great height has the potential to kill. 23 percent were ‘very afraid’ while 35 percent were a little afraid.
This physical response is known as a stress response; people often describe their reaction to something as being “paralysed with fear” or “having butterflies in my stomach”, “just wanting to run away” from whatever is triggering that response.
People with phobias often know their response is irrational, which makes it harder to accept. “Why am I reacting like this when I know it can’t hurt me?” is something most hypnotherapists hear from a client who has come to see them for treating a phobia.
Phobias are far more common than many people realise. It is estimated that more than 11% of the population have some kind of irrational fear.
Generally people manage their phobia on a day-to-day basis and only seek help from a hypnotherapist when it prevents them doing something they want to do, or when they know a situation will force them to face it. People are also aware of the possibility of unconsciously passing on their phobias to their children, who learn from their behaviour.
People often say to a hypnotherapist, “you’re my last resort” or “you’re my final hope”. Amongst the most common phobias seen by hypnotherapists are:
- Fear of flying
- Fear of insects
- Fear of heights
- Fear of needles
- Fear of dentists
- Fear of water
- Fear of sickness (often linked to social phobias)
- Fear of snakes
How Do People Get Phobias?
An irrational fear of something is a learned behaviour, sometimes from a parent or a respected friend or relative. It is part of the body’s natural defence system: often phobias are exaggerated fears of evolutionary memories; imprints on our brains that help protect us through caution, making us innately aware of something that could harm us.
But phobias are a good example of what’s known as a ‘one trial’ learning experience – a single pairing of a stimulus and a response. So for example you get bitten by one dog, or mistreated by one dentist, or stuck in one lift, and your brain immediately sets up a generalisation. Now, all dogs and lifts are dangerous and all dentists are to be feared!
As a small child we learn about fears from our parents, as they teach us (both consciously and unconsciously) how to live and relate to the world around us. If you see your parent being frightened of a spider, your instinctive response and the message hardwired to your brain is that this is a threat and can harm you too.
Over time, when you see a spider that message is reinforced, so it is exposure to that fear which compounds it and makes it worse.
It doesn’t matter that, intellectually, we know that although there are poisonous spiders in the world that can hurt us and even kill us, (so we have an awareness of that on a primal level), a house spider in the UK is completely harmless. A person with a phobia is unable to make this differentiation.
And what about that fear of speaking in public? Well, at school many of us were made to stand up and speak out loud in front of the class, while the teacher pointed out all our mistakes and the rest of the class watched and giggled – does that ring any bells? So you may have started to worry about being judged.
Hardly surprising that you didn’t find the experience either pleasant or helpful, and learned to avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately the way we teach public speaking in many (not all) schools, can actually install the phobia.
How Do You Treat Phobias?
Hypnosis has been shown to be an effective treatment for many individuals with phobias and almost all phobias can be treated and cured, many in just one session.
I usually use the Fast Phobia Cure or Tapping along with deep relaxation while in hypnosis to gently and safely help you overcome whatever phobia is causing your distress. There is, however, no guarantee, as change depends on each person and their willingness to embrace it.
When you have your free consultation I will be able to give you a realistic expectation of how many sessions you’re likely to need.
I’ve mentioned some of the more common fears, but there are many, many more. So if you have a fear that you’d like to get rid of, check out my contact details below, and get in touch to set up your free 30 minute initial consultation. Note that if you are not local to my practice, I can provide this consultation over Skype.