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Phobias & Chronic Fears

A multi-modality hypnotherapeutic approach can help to  overcome a phobia

  • Research shows that hypnotherapy can help people overcome phobias, particularly when combined with other therapeutic modalities.

  • An integrated hypnotherapeutic approach could start showing results after one or two sessions, though a longer course of treatment may be needed.

  • Imaginal exposure can help lead to desensitisation, allowing clients to stay safe and calm while imagining their fear.

What are phobias?

Phobias are defined as extreme, overwhelming, debilitating and irrational reactions to specific triggers. While most of us are fearful of particular things, and fear is often a perfectly reasonable response to certain situations, phobias are extreme fear responses which are out of all proportion to the trigger. The trigger itself need not represent an inherent danger, and people can be phobic of anything from balloons to tomato soup.

People can develop phobias in their childhood, often as the result of an unpleasant experience, such as being stung by a bee or bitten by a dog.
Sometimes children learn to develop a phobic response by witnessing the fearful behaviour of a parent or sibling.
Phobias can be culturally predominant or can be an extreme response to situations or things which do have a level of inherent danger.

Research into the efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of phobias and other anxiety disorders suggests that hypnosis is most effective when combined with other psychological interventions, such as cognitive behavioural therapy.


Phobias can be divided into three main categories:

  • Specific phobias are those generally related to a single trigger such as a fear of flying, fear of dogs, fear of heights, fear of spiders etc.

  • Social phobias or social anxiety are generally fears to do with fears relating to our performance with or around other people. These can cause us to experience severe anxiety when faced with normal, everyday situations. Social phobias are some of the most common phobias and generally respond well to hypnosis.

  • Agoraphobia is a generalised fear of leaving a familiar place or area which is deemed safe, such as your home. To do so may be followed by an onset of panic attacks which the sufferer of agoraphobia will avoid at any cost. This results in a limited ability to enjoy life as avoidance of “unsafe” places becomes the norm

Why Hypnotherapy Can Be Effective

The state of hypnosis is characterised by brain changes which tend to allow for greater emotional control and less self-consciousness.3 This means that people are more likely to put themselves into imaginal situations and that, in those situations, they can retain more control over their emotional responses.

People tend to experience imaginal situations in a very realistic manner when they are in a state of hypnosis. So despite the fact that there is no snake, swimming pool, or aeroplane, they can still "experience" the situation similarly to how they would if the source of their fear was actually present. What's more, they experience their new, desired outcome almost exactly as if they had already experienced it. Combined with the fact that some people are more likely to be responsive to positive suggestion when in a state of hypnosis, hypnotherapy may provide an effective therapeutic intervention for phobias.

One in nine people have a phobia of some kind and one in six people have at least one panic attack at some stage in their lives.


Rest Easy Hypnotherapy for Phobias

Phobias may be very common but they nothing more than a learnt response to a particular set of circumstances. Because phobias are learnt responses, they can also be “unlearnt” and this is where hypnotherapy and NLP help. Phobias are subconscious responses that are triggered automatically at a subconscious level.

Using hypnosis to overcome phobias you can make changes to automatic, unconscious thought processes and effectively reprogram how you respond in particular situations. NLP and hypnotherapy are powerful therapeutic processes that can will help you overcome your phobia permanently. The phobias we most often are asked to help with include, fear of flying, social phobias, the fear of public speaking, spider and snake phobias and phobias about injections and medical treatment.

I combine hypnotherapy primarily with CBT and a controlled form of exposure therapy that uses the imagination, called imaginal exposure. Having established a client’s beliefs around what triggers their phobic response, I then work with them in a state of hypnosis to let them "experience" what would happen if they developed a new belief that was more helpful and realistic.

Imaginal exposure allows them to expose themselves to their fear in a controlled way and may be more accessible to some people than in-vivo exposure. As they repeatedly place themselves in the previously fearful situation, their physical response may begin to change. As the client becomes desensitised, their usual fight-or-flight response is typically replaced by a calmer reaction.

Though hypnotherapy can in some cases start to show positive effects rapidly, many clients benefit from ongoing work with their hypnotherapist over the course of several sessions. In my clinical experience, specific phobia treatment, using the multi-modality approach outlined above, can work effectively for many clients in one to three sessions.

Call Cara today to find out more about how a
Rest Easy Hypnotherapy treamtent program can work for you

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