How About Getting Rid of That Phobia Now?
A phobia can be a terrible blight on your life. Maybe you're someone who loves to see new places but hates flying; who loves your job but lives in fear of being asked to speak in public; who just HATES even the idea of a spider or a bird or a snake or a clown or balloons... Whatever your particular thing may be - it's important you know this: it doesn't have to be this way.
Now it may be that these different objects of fear don't have too much in common, but the fear itself does - and so does the treatment.
A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. (So having a healthy respect for the Australian wildlife that can actually bite isn't a phobia - that's just sensible.) It's a learned response: you weren't born this way. And if a response can be learned, it can be unlearned, too.
How? Read on and find out...
EXAMPLES OF PHOBIAS
(None of these examples use the person's real name, and some details have been changed.) Mia was bitten by a dog when she was two, and, unbelievably, again when she was in her early teens. Once, she was holding a baby and was attacked by a dog - so she protected the baby. She really did seem to be very unlucky when it came to dogs! Now she came to see me, determined to do something about how her fear of dogs was spoiling her enjoyment of being outdoors.
Josie was an exceptionally bright, articulate and vivacious twelve year old who was terrified of birds.
Anna was a very successful business executive, who lived in fear of the next group meeting at which she'd have to talk about the month's progress - which was a pity, because her results were terrific.
Sally loved travel, but got so terrified flying that her poor husband's forearm ended up a bruised sore mess by the end of the flight. Now HE was getting afraid of flying!
HOW DO WE HELP?
What do we do to help? Well, think of it this way. For every phobia there's a stimulus (the object of the fear: the dog, the bird, the flight) and a response (exactly how the person experiences their particular fear - sweaty palms, panicky feeling, racing heartbeat etc).
How often do you think the person has had the experience of the stimulus without the response, or vice versa? Never, that's how often. And every time she has that overall experience - stimulus: response; stimulus: response; stimulus: response - it's reinforcing the phobia.
So now, imagine that we could separate the two. That is, have the person experience the stimulus without the response and the response without the stimulus. Well, that's exactly what we do.
Let's take a rare example, so that hopefully it doesn't apply to you and you can do this little thought experiment without it troubling you. Imagine you are afraid of, oh I don't know, business cards. (It may sound silly, but remember that any phobia is by its nature irrational and that it's possible to develop a phobia of just about anything.)
I ask you to imagine a business card, 100 years ago, on the other side of the world, locked in the world's deepest most secure vault. How do you feel? Probably OK, actually. It's a long way away, and you're feeling safe and secure. Now, very, very gradually we can move the card towards you, from 100 years ago to 50 years ago, from the other side of the world to the next door continent.
What we're looking for is when the feelings start, and long before they become overwhelming, frightening, unbearable. Doesn't sound so bad, does it?
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
We don't need Hypnotherapy to do this first bit. But now we can get you to have a deeply relaxed, calm and controlled experience of the object of your fear, at such a remove that it's no threat at all.
What you discover is that you can find out just when that little sense of fear is beginning... and now that you can spot it, you can do something about it. In effect you can learn to increase your tolerance to your feared object or experience. (There's also a whole bunch of coping skills you can learn to help you, as well.)
Mia doesn't mind dogs now (one session, with a follow-up to check it had worked). Josie is still a bit wary of birds, but much better (three sessions, the last after a visit to the bush that had gone well). Anna has overcome her fear of speaking, and although it's not her favourite thing, she doesn't mind it at all, really (four sessions - but that involved preparing a speech she was about to give). And Sally flies comfortably. Her husband's arm is getting much better too, thanks very much (one session, with a second session to confirm the improvement).