Hypnosis for Phobias

There are probably few of us who do not have any fears or phobias, even if it’s as simple as being a little fearful of spiders, or perhaps liking to sleep with a little light shining somewhere nearby as the dark is not comfortable.  Many such fears are manageable and the majority of us experience them at some point in our lives with little impact.

However, some people have phobias that limit their opportunities in life:  the person with a fear of flying may find being in a plane uncomfortable, however someone with a more serious fear, or phobia, of flying may completely avoid getting on, or perhaps even seeing, a plane; equally, someone with a fear of open spaces may avoid large parks, fields and sports grounds, however someone with a more serious fear, or perhaps agoraphobia, may never leave their house.

Below is a list of the more common fears and phobias that we get consulted about:

  1. Spiders – Arachnophobiaphobia.304151103_std
  2. Flying  – aviatopophobia
  3. Water – Hydrophobia
  4. Heights – Acrophobia
  5. Enclosed spaces – Claustrophobia
  6. Open spaces – Agorophobia
  7. Crowds – Demophobia
  8. Darkness – Nyctophobia
  9. Dentists – Odontophobia
  10. Speaking in public – Glossophobia
  11. Needles – Aichmophobia
  12. Death or dying – Thanatophobia
  13. Being sick – Emetophobia or Emetephobia (may also be known as phagophobia, vomitophobia, vomit phobia, sickness phobia)
  14. Being judged or put on the spot – Social Phobia, or Scopophobia.

The list of fears and phobias is endless as people really can be fearful of anything in their thoughts and lives so please don’t think that you can’t be helped if your fear or phobia is not listed above.

The important thing is that if your fear or phobia is having a negative impact upon you, or if it is limiting your full participation in life, or if your fear or phobia is becoming more severe and is beginning to dominate your life then it’s probably time to do something about it.

How Hypnotherapy Can Help

Perhaps there is an upcoming event that they would like specific help with.  For example, perhaps you want to go on holiday, but have a fear of flying and want help to get you onto the flight; perhaps you have a fear of spiders and are about to go camping and want some help to reduce your anxieties in relation to spiders; or perhaps you have a fear of dogs and are soon to go and stay with a friend who has a dog.  For these types of issue, hypnosis, combined with suggestion therapy could enable you to reduce your fear or anxiety and to feel more in control.

Hypnosis can give you a greater sense of self; it can boost self-confidence and self-esteem; it can help you build on your self-belief, giving you a strong visual image of yourself being calm and self-assured in your upcoming event.

An added bonus is that hypnosis is wonderfully relaxing and reduces stress levels.

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Hypnosis and Claustrophobia

People with claustrophobia experience fears related to enclosed spaces or areas where it may be impossible to exit quickly, such as airplanes, elevators or trains. Some people even feel claustrophobic inside MRI scanning machines. Because of their fear, people with claustrophobia tend to avoid small areas. Sufferers also tend to sit close to exitways or along the sides of a room, versus approaching the center. Claustrophobic people frequently have panic attacks when they start to feel “stuck” or closed in. For some people, being in a tight area is as horrifying as being buried alive.

Suffering an anxiety attack in a crowded area can be an alarming time for claustrophobic people and people surrounding them. At the moment when a person’s claustrophobia is triggered, they may experience panic attacks, difficulty breathing, nausea, passing out, and other, often intense, reactions. One can develop claustrophobia at any age or because of a traumatic incident, but it often arises during childhood.250px-Claustrophobia

The disorder can be aggravated by many different situations, which may be different between individuals. For instance, some claustrophobic people might only feel nervous while riding an elevator, while others find large crowds trigger their condition. Regardless of the specific situation, claustrophobia and other phobias often negatively affect people’s daily lives and personal satisfaction. Phobia sufferers frequently become avoidant and enjoy a decreased quality of life as they arrange their activities around their phobia.

For many people, the fear of embarrassment or humiliation over their phobia is as debilitating as the the phobic condition itself. Some phobia sufferers know that their fears are overblown and irrational, but cannot seem to keep their composure. The reason for this is because phobias arise from deep within the unconscious mind, which no amount of conscious willpower can fully control. This makes controlling phobias especially challenging.

Claustrophobia can be cured with anti-anxiety drugs or therapy. Hypnosis therapy is an excellent, non-invasive, safe type of therapy with no harmful side effects. It works by pinpointing the underlying causes of fear in the unconscious mind to quickly cure a phobia. Specifically, a program that has Ericksonian hypnosis therapy techniques and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) can be used to cure a phobia. This revolutionary program uses numerous techniques to help people overcome their phobias.

The first step in curing a phobia is helping the sufferer become at ease and stress-free. Hypnosis therapy has traditionally been used as a type of stress-relief therapy, to help people clear their minds and calm down.

Conventional hypnosis techniques have made use of direct, post-hypnotic suggestions to help relieve phobias. The disadvantage of the direct approach is that the conscious mind tends to resist being simply “told” how to respond. Many people throw up mental barriers and disregard suggestions. In modern days, both children and adults are especially likely to ignore direct suggestions because we are mostly independent people who question everything.

The basis of hypnosis is deep relaxation. Once set the calm state, instead of using direct post-hypnotic suggestions, a different approach known as systematic desensitization can often help eliminate a phobia using visual images.

Ericksonian hypnosis therapy techniques use a more refined approach than traditional hypnotherapy. It utilizies indirect suggestions concealed in fascinating stories and metaphors to interest the unconscious mind and convince it to adopt a better, phobia-free thought process. Because indirect suggestions do not need to be specifically worded to a single phobia like direct suggestions do, a single good Ericksonian hypnotic therapy program can work to successfully treat any phobia or even more than one phobia.

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Hypnosis and Fear of Driving

Driving anxiety is a very common form of anxiety that can range in severity from a hesitation to drive, where anxiety is always present, all the way up to a total refusal to drive at all, in which case it becomes driving phobia.nervous-driver

A phobia is a fear that is paralyzing but irrational. Driving phobia is one of the most common phobias.

Driving phobia is a form of agoraphobia, literally defined as is the fear of open spaces. But it’s not the fear of open spaces that scares people, it’s the fear of loss of control. People with a driving phobia fear being trapped in a traffic jam and unable to escape if they experience a panic attack, likewise, they also fear passing out, losing control of the vehicle, throwing up or getting into an accident. For many people, driving next to big trucks can be very nerve racking, as can be merging on the freeway or driving in the fast lane.

Driving Anxiety Symptoms

Symptoms of driving anxiety or phobia are similar to those of most other forms of anxiety: heart palpitations, perspiring and sweaty palms, disorientation, confusion, dizziness, dry mouth and shortness of breath. This is the classic “fight or flight response”. Sometimes people feel that they are going to die or go crazy. This can be really scary and people will avoid driving to avoid these kind of intense feelings. Of course, these are just feelings and even the most severe panic attacks don’t cause any long term ill effects.

Obviously, this can seriously impact a person’s ability to function on a daily basis if they need to drive to work or drive for a living, especially here in Australia, where driving is necessary to get anywhere fast.

Driving anxiety can start in many ways. Usually a person has experienced an incident such as a car accident or “close call” and that memory is still causing the subconscious mind to be protective. Sometimes, although not often, this kind of anxiety can show up seemingly out of the blue. If you are a person that is prone to anxiety or fear, then driving may just be one place where this shows up.

In addition, episodes of low blood sugar can create anxiety which can become associated with driving, if you happen to be driving when the low blood sugar takes place. Low blood sugar can be caused from not eating or after eating a meal high in simple carbs or sugar. This is especially true for those that have family histories of diabetes or hypoglycemia.

Driving anxiety can turn into a phobia though avoidance. In other words, of you have some fear of driving and you decide to stop altogether, it becomes a full blown phobia and the more you avoid it, the harder it is to get back in the saddle, so to speak. The good news is, fear of driving is a learned behavior. If you have ever felt comfortable driving, then that is something you learned, so if you are uncomfortable now, you can relearn how to be comfortable again.

Driving Anxiety Tips

Here are some tips to help you get back on the road feeling safe and comfortable and confident. If you are currently not driving due to fear, I highly recommend that you seek help as many have been able to resume driving with the help of a good Therapist or Hypnotherapist.

  • The basics: Avoid driving on an empty stomach. Pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods, especially those high in sugar or simple carbs (bread, pastries, soft drinks). Drinking alcohol the night before can also trigger blood sugar imbalances. Also, if you are driving while sleep deprived, you are asking for trouble. Start by taking care of yourself.
  • Caffeine: is a known trigger for anxiety. Some of my clients have felt a marked relief in anxiety just by cutting back on caffeinated beverages.
  • Consider car pooling: If you are engaged in conversation you are less liable to think anxious thoughts. You also have to drive half as much. Think this one over carefully, as some people are more distracted while conversing while driving.
  • Manage your stress: A common cause for anxiety is extended periods of overwhelming stress. Do what you can to lower your stress level: exercise, take more breaks, meditation, yoga, etc.
  • Affirmations: Hand write, in script, some positive affirmation about your ability to drive calm, comfortable and relaxed. For example “I’m calm, comfortable and relaxed while driving and enjoying listening to music (the radio, audio books, etc.)” Read them right before you go to bed and right after you wake up. Say them out loud and imagine yourself driving while feeling calm and relaxed. Don’t underestimate the power of this simple exercise.
  • What really stops most people is the anticipatory anxiety: “Oh my God, I need to drive tomorrow out to the west side. I just know this is going to cause me a lot of anxiety. I’m already feeling it!” Instead, try saying something like “Yeah, if I feel anxious I know I can handle it.”
  • Desensitization: This is a therapeutic technique which can help you become more comfortable with what is fearful. I use desensitization with clients while they are in hypnosis. It involves taking small steps to put yourself in situations that trigger anxiety. For example, if you can’t even drive your car, then you might start by sitting in the parked car in the driveway or on the street with the engine on but not moving. Notice whatever anxiety comes up and just be with it. Do that for longer periods of time until you can sit in the car, engine running, without anxiety. When you reach that point, and it may take a few hours or a few days, then drive around the block. If you feel anxiety, just pull over until it goes away, then continue driving. For freeway driving, you might try getting on one on ramp, staying in the slow lane, and then getting off on the next off ramp.

The most important thing to realize is that even though anxiety does not feel good, it will not kill you. It is your reaction to the feeling of anxiety that can make it manageable or not. Instead of fighting anxiety, just allow it to be. Notice it, and see if you can observe it with detachment. Take deep breaths and try to remain in the present moment. Realize you have a tendency to create anxiety with your thoughts so try focusing on something else, like the environment, music, or the cars in front of you.

If you are still driving even though you experience anxiety, these tips can be helpful and good luck. However, if your level of anxiety is very high or if you are phobic, you will probably need some help. As a hypnotherapist specializing in anxiety, I can tell you that you don’t need to live with the anxiety; hypnotherapy can be effective for allowing you to drive comfortably, confidently and safely.

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Hypnotherapy and Fear of Public Speaking

Fear of public speaking is a phobia, an illogical state of mind, when we are overwhelmed by completely irrational fears. The fear of public speaking is, in fact, a trance-like hypnotic state, brought on by subconscious triggers. The best way to resolve the fear of public speaking is to use hypnosis to access the subconscious mind and to neutralize those triggers.

Logically, the fear of public speaking does not make much sense. You may be well prepared, an expert in the field, and there is no real threat whatsoever. But the body reacts with complete panic. Your heart races, you cannot breathe or you hyperventilate, your hands shake or become damp, you start sweating or blushing, the tone of your voice changes, and your mind goes blank. Sometimes it happens suddenly without any warning, but most often nervousness grows far in advance of the event, leading to ever-present anxiety and stress.

Hypnotherapy provides a fast solution, which completely dissolves this irrational fear. Even one hypnotherapy session with an experienced hypnotherapist will reduce the fear significantly. There are just a few more sessions required to change the fear into excitement and to build the self-confidence and self-esteem needed for optimal public performance. Continue reading →

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Hypnotherapy in Dentistry

Hypnosis is becoming widely used in dentistry, especially in cases where side effects make the use of certain drugs problematic.

Fear of needles and involuntary gagging, both of which dentists encounter in the patients from time to time, respond extremely well to hypnotherapy.

In this a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, and titled, Three Case Reports in Dental Hypnotherapy*, J. Arthur Weyandt D.S.S., describes case studies where hypnosis proved effective with dentistry patients.

You can read the paper here

* J. Arthur Weyandt D.S.S. (1972): Three Case Reports in Dental Hypnotherapy, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 15:1, 49-55

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Hypnosis and Phobias

Phobias, a profound, and usually inexplicable  fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation, are quite common and can have a debilitating effect on our lives.

Some fear flying and so have never been able to take that vacation of their dreams. Some fear insects or spiders to the point that they get up during the night to check that there are none in the bedroom.

A particularly common phobia is a fear of needles. This maybe purely a fear of injections but it’s also quite common for it to manifest as a deep fear of going to the dentist, which can lead to gum disease and more general deterioration in health as a result.

Hypnosis is a proven, side effect free method of eliminating phobias of all kinds. Properly applied, hypnotherapy will usually result in permanent relief for the phobia sufferer.

Over the years, I have helped many clients overcome phobias of all kinds in both children and adults.

Click here to read an excellent report by Donald R. Morse D.D.S., M.A. (Biol.), M.A. (Psychol.) and Bernard B. Cohen Ph.D. published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website that describes two cases where hypnosis was used to eliminate needle fear in two dental patients.


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