Phobias: Facing up to your fears

Everyone has at some time experienced worry, fear, or anxiety, but the experience varies greatly from one person to another. Fears and anxieties have shared features that are recognised by professional therapists. Fears are part of our life experiences but if they become too intense, they may develop into a phobia.

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A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear or aversion which tends to centre on an object or situation. The experience for the individual is often overwhelming and profound. For example, agoraphobia is a fear of being trapped in a place or situation. The fear usually reflects an anxiety that something terrible will happen if the place of safety is left. It can transfer to loved ones and property. 

All phobias centre around our natural reaction to fear. The irony is that fear is a natural response in all of us. It keeps us safe by making sure we do not put ourselves in dangerous situations! Fear is a skill we learn to manage as we grow up. Small children are often fearless. However, our nervous system carries messages to and from the brain.

A phobia sufferer is continually bombarded with messages that there is something to be frightened of  especially when they are in ‘trigger’ situations. The individual in the grip of a phobia can understand logically that there is no reason for them to fear but their nervous system tells them otherwise.

The feelings they experience are very real, distressing and must be dealt with by escape or avoidance. But avoidance only serves to reinforce the fear and does not help the sufferer to overcome the irrational fear of spiders, snakes, heights, dogs or whatever it is. However the more the individual escapes or avoids the phobic object or situation the worse it becomes.

Phobias cause our nervous system to trigger a cascade of symptoms which are often alarming and unpleasant if left unchecked. The good news is that hypnotherapy can help to reduce the symptoms and to develop coping strategies.

Simple breathing techniques can slow the breath entering and leaving the body thus calming the nervous system. Calm anchoring can be set up by the hypnotherapist during a hypnotic trance to relax the client traumatised by a phobia. I have also found that EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) can help the client to process and manage their fear successfully.

Phobias often begin in childhood between the ages of 7-11 years. Research evidence reveals that 5% of children and 16% of adolescents experience a specific phobia. Also, girls more than boys by a ratio of 2:1.

Phobias can be sorted into categories. The main ones are simple phobia, social phobia, and agoraphobia. Historically, they were classified by the name of the object of fear.

There are more than 400 phobias recorded. Number one is the fear of spiders (one in three women and one in four men have this fear!).

  • apiphobia – fear of bees
  • arachnophobia – fear of spiders
  • brontophobia - fear of thunder
  • coulrophobia – fear of clowns
  • cynophobia – fear of dogs
  • emetophobia – fear of vomiting
  • haematophobia – fear of blood
  • hydrophobia – fear of water
  • nomophobia – fear of being without mobile phone coverage(!)
  • ophidiophobia – fear of snakes
  • ornithophobia – fear of birds
  • somniphobia – fear of falling asleep
  • xanthophobia – fear of the colour yellow

Help is available and phobias can be overcome, and you do not have to suffer! Hypnotherapy seeks to find the root cause of your phobia and to enable you to react to it in a more relaxed and calm way. Phobias are displaced fears and they can be desensitised working with the subconscious mind. Hypnosis uses tools of relaxation; visualisation and it can change the way we think about our fears. Rebuilding self-confidence and finally...

Facing up to the fear and releasing it!

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Westgate-on-Sea, CT8
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Written by Ann Hamilton, DAHP, GHR - Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist and Supervisor
Westgate-on-Sea, CT8

Ann Hamilton. MA, BSc Hons, DAHP, GHR, CNHC, Dip EMDR, EFT, MIACHT.
GHR Acknowledged Supervisor
Analytical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy
www.artemishypnotherapy.com

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