Are you going on holiday this year? If so, and you’re one of the 40% of people that have a fear of flying, then you’re probably not looking forward to the journey. Fortunately however, fear of flying is a common phobia, and situations when it has to be dealt with are normally few and far between. So what do you do if you have a phobia that impacts your life in a debilitating way?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and clinical hypnotherapy are often very effective ways of dealing with a phobia, by working on the fears attached to phobias to effect a cure. So read on for a basic guide to phobias and how hypnotherapy or CBT can help.
What is a phobia?
A phobia is basically an exaggerated response to fear. Situations or things that make us feel nervous, trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response, causing surges of adrenaline in our bodies to prepare us for action. In normal everyday situations however, the ‘fight or flight’ response isn’t always appropriate, and so our fears are heightened leading to panic attacks. A phobia, then, can compel us to avoid the situation or thing that worries us, leading to avoidance behaviours that can control our life.
Phobias can be categorised in four ways. Some of the most common include:
- Environmental: Water, the dark, small spaces (claustrophobia), open spaces (agoraphobia)
- Animal Based: Snakes, spiders, rats or dogs
- Situational: Social gatherings, public speaking or dentist visits
- Body: Bodily functions such as vomiting, and medical procedures
In some cases, such as agoraphobia, the condition can seriously affect everyday life due to the fear of going outside. So if you have a phobia which impacts your everyday life, then it’s important to get help.
Treating a Phobia with Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy works on phobias by firstly understanding the cause of the fear, and then gently changing the response to this fear by working on the unconscious mind. A qualified hypnotherapist with the correct hypnosis training is able to induce a deeply relaxed state in the client, and powerfully change the associations and fears causing the phobia, by working on the subconscious mind. In this deeply relaxed state, the therapist will encourage the client to face their fears in their imagination, and replace those unpleasant feelings with a feeling of calm. This effectively ‘desensitises’ the client to their phobia, and can normally be done in just a few sessions, resulting in change very quickly.
Treating a Phobia with CBT
CBT too is a powerfully effective technique. CBT works on the principle that the mind can be ‘reprogrammed’ to think about the fear in a different and more positive way, through using techniques known as ‘cognitive re-framing’ and ‘desensitisation’. These techniques focus on transforming all the negative thoughts associated with the phobia and replacing them with positive ones. So hypnotherapy and CBT work in much the same way, using different techniques. However, there are therapists who combine the two disciplines for fast and effective results, so a hypnotherapist trained in CBT techniques can be most successful.
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Rob Rudd is a professional writer, writing on subjects from health and wellbeing to DIY and home improvement.