Phobias

I can help you overcome your fears and phobias to give you the freedom to enjoy situations that have previously made you feel unnecessarily fearful. Hypnotherapy works with the part of your mind responsible for creating and maintaining your phobia, so when we make changes at this level you no longer have to live with the discomfort of a fear or phobia which has been limiting your life or preventing you from enjoying usually pleasurable activities.

Overcoming a phobia with Hypnotherapy

In this video two clients share their experience of working with me to overcome their phobia, and I explain how phobias work and how hypnotherapy can help you effectively change the phobic response.

What is a phobia?

A phobia is a high anxiety response to an object, situation or even a thought.  The subconscious mind has powerful programming built in to protect us and fear has been crucial to our evolution. To survive we rely on the ability to bypass our rational thinking brain and respond instantly to a perceived threat in a way that primes us for fight or flight.  As part of our survival mechanism the fear response has to be instantaneous and not wait for conscious thoughts – for example faced with a tiger we simply didn’t have time to access if a) we should run, 2) we should fight or 3) that tiger looks cute should we pat it?!

Phobias are caused when this survival mechanism gets over exaggerated (e.g. when a picture of a snake freaks you out even though you are miles away from any snakes) or miss-applied to situations or objects, causing future encounters with them to trigger a fear response.  And since this primitive part of the brain works so fast, we start to experience a phobic reaction before we’re consciously aware of it – this is why some people might jump up on the couch in panic, before their conscious mind catches up and they realise it wasn’t a mouse, it was just a curtain blowing in the breeze.  The phobic response is outside of conscious control – this is why many people despite knowing their phobia is irrational are unable to overcome it through conscious effort alone.

Where do phobias come from?

We are only born with two ‘hard wired’ fear imprints – fear of falling and fear of loud noises, everything else is learnt.  We learn to be phobic when the amgydala, part of our primitive brain, perceives an object or situation (a stimulus) to be dangerous.  It creates an imprint of this on our mind so that the next time we encounter (or even think about) the stimulus it triggers a physical response quickly and automatically. Regardless of a situation being dangerous or not, it’s the perception that it is that causes the fear and anxiety.

Phobias can be learnt when you experience a high state of anxiety paired with an object, even though the object does not need to be the cause  of the anxiety. For example the poet Robert Graves became phobic of telephones because he was using one when a bomb went off during the war.  Because fear is infectious  phobias can also be learnt from  other people – such as when a child sees a parent scream at a spider.  Sometimes during a time of higher than normal stress in their life people even become phobic of something that never used to bother them. Because the phobic trigger can be associated to anything,  phobias can range from the more known (e.g. fear of spiders, fear of  flying, fear of needles, and fear of water) to  the lesser known such as snow (chionophobia) to fear of belly buttons (omphalophobia).

Using hypnotherapy to unlearn fears & phobias

Fortunately, the subconscious mind has made allowances not only to learn new fears, but to also unlearn old fears that no longer apply.  Because the subconscious is responsible for creating and maintaining a phobia, to make effective changes to we must speak the language of the subconscious mind, this is why hypnotherapy is so effective. The difference between a phobia and a reasonable fear is that with a phobia the subconscious mind perceives a danger that is not real or blows the danger out of proportion. Hypnotherapy corrects the imprint so that a fear response is only generated when the danger is real.

When treating phobias a distinction is made to maintain personal safety – for example a person with a snake phobia would still maintain a level of caution and a natural appropriate fear response  if they encountered a poisonous snake in the wild. Hypnotherapy takes the sting out of old and even traumatic memories and helps the brain reprocess the imprint, so that you will consider the phobic object or situation just like any other object or situation you feel calm and relaxed about.

Stop letting fear hold you back  Contact me to book a session or discuss how hypnotherapy can help you overcome your phobia.