Overcoming fears and phobias

Phobias are “irrational” fears that can range from having an irritating to a completely debilitating effect on one's life.

Common phobias are:

  • Arachnophobia: fear of spiders
  • Needle phobia
  • Claustrophobia: fear of enclosed spaces
  • Agoraphobia: fear of open/public spaces where escape might be difficult
  • Acrophobia: fear of heights – often mistakenly called vertigo
  • Emetophobia: fear pertaining to vomit or vomiting
  • Aviophobia: fear of flying

Other less well known phobias are:

  • Fear of buttons: button phobia
  • Fear of beards: pogonophobia
  • Fear of chickens: Alektorophobia

Fear is a necessary emotion that all organisms have evolved to allow us to identify risk and motivate us to avoid it. Without it, it is unlikely that we would survive for long when we cross the road!

Our brains create “templates” of what is frightening and what is best to avoid. Some of these may be innate. For example, most animals know to avoid other creatures that may be venomous. Some templates are likely to be learnt – “once bitten, twice shy”. We may have had a frightening experience at some point in our life and our primitive brain has looked around for a focus for the fear that we can have control of. Often these experiences have occurred at an early age before we were able to have an intellectual understanding of the fear experience. Sometimes templates can be copied. If mum or dad was afraid of spiders then it likely that we may develop a similar fear. Phobia templates may be created by one or a combination of these factors.

Our primitive brain - the fight/flight response – will expect to feel afraid when confronted by the feared object or situation and we learn to become afraid of the fear. It will assess the situation negatively and will fear the worst, encouraging us to “opt out”. This creates a vicious circle and even if we intellectually know that the risk is minimal or non-existent, our natural alarm system kicks in.

How hypnotherapy can help

Hypnotherapy works to reprogramme our brains through relaxation and techniques known as “rewind” and “reframe”. By decreasing our stress levels, increasing self-confidence and reprogramming our templates, the vicious circle can be broken.

How many treatments?

Following an initial consultation, three further sessions are required to treat phobias.