A Phobia can be described as a persistent and irrational fear or dread of, and a strong desire to avoid a specific situation, activity or object. A Phobic response to a stimulus is a learned response-we are not born into this world with Phobias. Phobias can exist in the lives of people who would otherwise be reasonably well adjusted and for some, the phobia can be paralysing – and for others can manifest as high levels of anxiety.
Clinical Hypnosis or Hypnotherapy has been used extensively for the successful treatment for Phobias and anxiety disorders. There are a few techniques that are commonly used by hypnotherapists when treating phobias and anxiety disorders, such as; hypnoanalysis, systematic desensitization, direct suggestion, and some NLP techniques. Often a combination of these may be applied during a hypnosis session, depending upon the individual needs of the sufferer and the degree in which they are affected. Sometimes a person may develop a phobia about a specific object, however the actual underlying fear can be related to a different situation. An example of this could be that a person does not like their workplace, and so anxiety begins to build up, and then they may attach this anxiety to trains because travelling by train is their only form of transport to work. The hypnotherapist can assist the person in uncovering the primary source of the fear with the application of clinical hypnosis and appropriate therapeutic techniques. The subconscious mind can then be reprogrammed, the fear can be diminished, and the person learns to respond to the stimulus in a more rational and calm manner. Sometimes just the realization of what the source of the fear is, and how it came about, is enough to bring about a level of positive change for the person.
There are 3 main classifications for Phobias..
Specific Phobias – generally related to a single trigger such as a fear of flying, fear of dogs, fear of heights, fear of spiders etc.
Social Phobias – generally fears to do with fears relating to our performance with or around other people. Social phobias are some of the most common phobias and generally respond well to hypnosis. A very common social phobia is the fear of public speaking.
Agoraphobias – Agoraphobia is a generalised fear of leaving a familiar place or area which is known as ‘safe’, such as your home. To do so might be followed by an onset of panic attacks which the person with agoraphobia will avoid at any cost. This then results in a limited ability to enjoy life because avoidance of “unsafe” places becomes the norm. Many sufferers are not necessarily afraid of open space in itself, but it is often the situations found in these places such as meeting other people, fear of not being able to escape from a crowded space, or a perceived lack of safety in general.
Most people that suffer with a phobia will usually recognise their fear or phobia as being unrealistic or irrational, however they still find themselves unable to face or confront it. When a person with a phobia actually encounters, or even thinks about being in the presence of the feared object or situation, s/he experiences immediate anxiety. Classic physical symptoms of a phobic response are a racing heart, trembling, excess sweating, shortness of breath, maybe some chest or abdominal discomfort, and emotionally there can be an intense fear of losing control, maybe a feeling like they are going to faint, and fear of total embarrassment.
Many people that suffer with a phobia will tend to build their whole life around it, and when this limits a person’s ability to enjoy a normal quality of life, seeking professional help is recommended.