phobias can be debilitating and can prevent you from living life to the
fullest. The good news is that not only
is hypnotherapy a safe, effective and gentle way to conquer phobias, but it
works with the part of your mind responsible for creating and maintaining your
phobia - when we make changes at this level you gain the freedom to enjoy situations
that previously made you feel unnecessarily fearful.
Overcoming a Phobia with Hypnotherapy
This video showcases the firsthand accounts of two of my clients, who share their experiences of working with me to successfully conquer their phobias. Through their inspiring stories, I delve into how phobias work, to show how hypnotherapy is a gentle and effective phobia treatment to help you change your 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 to protect us, and fear has been crucial to our evolution.
To survive we rely on the ability to bypass our rational thinking brain so we
can react instantly and instinctively to a perceived threat in a way that
primes us for fight or flight. When faced with a fierce tiger
there is no time to consciously think about your options (e.g. run from it, fight
it, or consider patting it as it looks kind of cute). ,
Phobias arise when this survival mechanism becomes exaggerated (e.g. when seeing a snake on TV freaks you out, even though it’s only an image) or miss-applied to situations or objects that aren’t dangerous (e.g. like trypophobia, which is a fear and aversion to irregular patterns of small holes, like you see in honeycomb, lotus pods, sponges, etc).
Because our unconscious processing is so fast, we can start to experience a phobic reaction before we’re consciously aware of it – we might panic and jump onto the couch, before our conscious mind catches up and we realise it wasn’t a menacing mouse, it was just a curtain blowing in the breeze.
The phobic response operates outside
of conscious control. This is why many
people, despite knowing their phobia is “irrational”, are unable to overcome it
through conscious effort alone - rationality has nothing to do with it!
Where do Phobias Come From?
We are born with only two innate fear
imprints – fear of falling and fear of loud noises
all other fears are learnt. When our primitive brain, specifically the
amygdala, perceives an object or situation (a stimulus) to be dangerous, it
creates an association or imprint in our mind.
So the next time we encounter (or even merely think of) that stimulus it
triggers an automatic fear response – regardless of whether the object or
situation is dangerous – it is the perception of danger that causes the fear
Phobias can be learnt when a state of heightened anxiety is paired with an object, even if that object is not the cause of the anxiety. For example, poet Robert Graves became phobic of telephones because he was using one when a bomb exploded during the war. Additionally, fears and phobias can also be learnt from other people – a child might learn to fear spiders after witnessing a parent’s terrified reaction.
Interestingly, during periods of heightened
stress, people may even develop phobias towards things that never used to
bother them. Since phobic triggers can be associated with anything, they
range from commonly known fears like spiders, flying, needles and water, to the
more obscure fears like snow (chionophobia) or fear of belly buttons
Using Hypnotherapy to Unlearn Fears and Phobia
The subconscious mind possesses the ability not only to learn new fears, but fortunately to also unlearn old fears that no longer apply – which is why despite being born with a fear of loud noises, when we don’t associate a concert with danger, we can enjoy seeing our favourite bands play.
Because the subconscious is responsible for creating and maintaining a phobia, effective changes must occur at that level. This is where hypnotherapy shines – it speaks the language of the subconscious mind, making it a powerful tool in learning a new (and much calmer) response to old fears and phobias, one that works much better for you.
Hypnotherapy takes the sting out of old and even traumatic fear memories and helps the brain reprocess the imprint, so that you can begin to consider the phobic object or situation just like you do any other object or situation you feel calm and relaxed about.
Fear is necessary for us to react automatically to keep us safe. Fear helps to protect us – it alerts us to danger and prepares us to deal with it. The difference is when the subconscious mind perceives a danger that is not real or blows the danger out of proportion – this is what we address in hypnotherapy. You will always maintain the startle reflex and have a level of natural caution and healthy respect (where appropriate, e.g. being alert and cautious in the ocean, or holding a snake at the zoo), and a fear response if the situation requires it (e.g. encountering an animal in the wild). However, you’ll no longer feel hypervigilant (e.g. constantly on the lookout for sparrows getting too close at an outdoor café) or have that unnecessary alarm go off just thinking about or seeing a picture of the thing you used to fear.
Overcoming a phobia may seem a daunting task, so let me reassure you that you do not have to face you fear head-on. I use a gentle approach that works at the unconscious level to change automatic responses. In fact it’s so gentle, clients are pleasantly surprised just how calm, relaxing and supportive our sessions are!
Imagine a life free from the constraints of your phobia, being
able to feel calm and enjoy activities and situations that you used to avoid,
or that caused unnecessary fear. With hypnotherapy, this can become a reality,
giving you the freedom to live your life to the fullest.