Hypnotherapy for phobias

Phobias are a subcategory of anxiety, focused on a specific object or situation. The fears of spiders, flying, empty or confined spaces, are well known, but everything can be a trigger of phobia. Hypnosis, coupled with techniques of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, is an effective therapy for improving one’s fear or phobia reactions.

Levels of phobias

Most phobias develop during childhood or adolescence, but there are other factors: a traumatic experience, a genetic predisposition to anxiety, ongoing stress, learning from a family member.

Millions of people suffer from phobias, but by avoiding the causes of their phobias, many never meet the trigger and live without trouble most of the time.

The level of phobia varies from mild discomfort to a state that quickly becomes a panic attack, or even fainting.

The most common symptoms are:

  • faster heartbeat (palpitations),
  • perspiring,
  • dizziness or balance problems,
  • nausea,
  • stomach ache,
  • shortness of breath,
  • tremors or trembling.

Identifying your phobia

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) is the diagnostic and classification tool of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). In the United States, it is the reference for psychiatric diagnoses.

The DSM-V classifies phobias into two broad categories: simple and complex.

Simple phobias

The whole category of simple phobias includes so-called “specific phobias” focused on one thing only. They are quite easy to treat, and are divided into several subcategories:

  • animal: fear of snakes, spiders, birds, rats, cats, dogs, etc.
  • natural environment: fear of empty space, fear of water, etc.,
  • situational: fear of confined spaces, fear of darkness, etc.,
  • blood / injection / injury: fear of needles, blood, wounds, medical procedures, etc.
  • others: fear of loud noises, clowns, fear of vomiting, fear of choking, etc.

Complex phobias

This category is divided into two types of fears: agoraphobia and social phobia (social anxiety).

Agoraphobia is driven by the need to be in a safe place, and can be associated with a fear of bacteria, social anxiety or other.

Social phobia, or fear of social situations, is motivated by anxiety about the judgements of others, and may associate with or be caused by phobias of blushing, sweating or otherwise.

Complex phobias require extensive and long-term work with CBT psychotherapy and hypnosis. Nevertheless, the treatment remains in the category of brief therapy.

Hypnotherapy to fight against phobia

According to research, following an assessment of fears, hypnotherapy to work a systematic desensitization is the best form of attack.

After listing a hierarchy of generating factors for the specific phobia, you learn relaxation techniques. Hypnosis allows you to stay calm in increasingly difficult situations.

Example of phobia

Here is the hierarchy of stress levels for a client who consulted me for a fear of spiders:

  1. look at a large image of a big spider,
  2. hold the image in her hands, touch the image with her finger,
  3. hold an opaque box knowing that there is a living spider in it,
  4. hold a transparent box with a live spider in it,
  5. put her hand close to the spider in the transparent box,
  6. stand one meter away from a table with the spider free on its surface,
  7. sit at a table with the spider free on its surface,
  8. sit at a table and put her hands near the spider,
  9. walk around a spider, barefoot,
  10. let the spider climb on her bare foot or on her hand.

We “rehearse” the tasks several times under hypnosis to reduce the emotional reaction before undertaking the experiment for real. We start with the easiest elements to go to the most difficult ones. By working in this way, after each victory, the emotion of stress decreases more and more. The last exercise is thus much easier than imagined at the beginning, and the phobic reaction has greatly diminished or even disappeared completely.

Testimonial

  • "I can't believe it.  After years of refusing to set foot on a plane, we have just got back from a wonderful stay in Milan where we flew to see our new grandson, and I was just fine! The hypnotherapy really worked!  And my husband is thrilled that we can now take a holiday in another country now...;-)"
    Julie D.