An 'Incurable' Phobia
This article aims at inspiring both therapists and people "suffering" from a phobia or any other issue for that matter. I believe that people cannot have depression, people can behave depressingly; people cannot have anorexia, people can eat disorderly; people cannot have a phobia, people can behave fearfully etc. These behaviours cannot be purchased at a shop; they cannot be picked up from others. We choose (whether that's consciously or unconsciously) to be depressed, to eat disorderly, to have that phobia and only when we can accept this do we realise that as we have chosen to have the problem we can now choose to change.
For some individuals phobias of any kind have a constant and limiting effect on their life. No matter how irrational they may appear they are a serious issue for the sufferer.
Freda from Cambridge (UK) was a prime example. An intelligent woman in her 40's she has suffered from a lifelong phobia of dogs and, with the dog population in this country now standing at more than 7 million, her every day was effected.
Freda had to live only where dogs are not allowed and could never enter any of the Cambridge parks or common areas.
Her physical reaction to even the thought of a dog was severe. Physical symptoms included palpitations, sweating and hyperventilation. Whilst no actual allergy existed the physical effects on her body were widespread and destructive.
During the last 20 years she has sought help from a range of professionals including Psychologists, CBT therapists and Doctors. All forms of therapy including medication failed. She had seen 5 hypnotherapists and the last one she had been to in 2002 "sold" her 28 sessions, charged her £1,500.00 and then told her that she was one of the 4 people in the UK who could not be helped! This person should not be practicing, not because of the lack of results but for the number of sessions and for the limiting belief which his diagnosis "installed" in Freda's mind.
Freda asked me to help her only because her best friend, who was one of my clients, convinced her to "give me a chance". Due to the facts described above, when Freda asked me to help her she held out little hope that the treatment would have worked and therefore we started with some limiting beliefs to resolve before we could proactively do any "change work".
The outcome of less than 90 minutes in the therapy room was that Freda was not only able to walk through parks and watching dogs, but she also touched a couple of dogs.
After a second reinforcing session, she touched a larger size dog and arranged with friends to walk their dogs and stated that she was now completely in control and over her phobia.
Freda also used to be very fearful of lifts and resolving the dogs phobia also enabled her to take the lift comfortably.
So what have I done? What was so special about the model of therapy I adopted? Well, although I would like to tell you that I have magic powers and a magic wand in my pocket, the reality is that the combination of traditional psychology, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and hypnosis was all that was needed.
I have started by analysing the issue and finding out whether the resolution of the root cause of the same would have been sufficient to let go of the phobia. Freda did not have a conscious memory of any event that might have caused the issue and therefore I decided to work with some NLP "techniques" before using hypnosis per se. And again, the "techniques" adopted are simply the NLP concepts adapted to the subjects specific personality and requirements. It is important for therapist to understand that there are no such things as scripts; the scripts are created by you by using your knowledge and expertise in your discipline and adapt them to the specific client as to create the most beneficial change. Everyone is different and a script stays the same and it cannot consequently work on everybody.
After establishing some basis for change which included Freda taking responsibility for her behaviour and therefore realising that she had the power to change, I have used association techniques and a lot of "anchoring" on the first session (which enabled Freda to touch a couple of dogs) and a quick hypnosis session a few days later to empower Freda's self belief and control over her thoughts. This enabled Freda not only to be comfortable around dogs, but to proactively look for opportunities (intelligently without putting herself at risk by approaching random dogs) to be near dogs and interact with them. Freda is now free, she walks her friend's dog, she walks through parks and she is in charge of her life.
So, if you are engaged in a behaviour which you feel you have no control over and wish to change, believe that you can change. Believe that you can become the person you want to become because you really can. Seek professional advice and take responsibility and you WILL change.
9 out of 10 therapists would not have taken on a client like Freda, probably thinking that they would have been just another failure on Freda's book. If you believe that you can help your clients to change, then you really can; by strongly believing in your own ability, experience and desire, you will make massive changes in people; changes that scripts cannot make. These are changes that only your passion, knowledge, experience and beliefs can help you make. Of course studies and experience are very important, essential in fact; however once you have those, rely on your skills not on scripts or statistics.
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Carrie BarberNovember 25th, 2016