I have explained HERE how phobias develop when the brain links a harmless situation to the experience of intense fear and danger caused by something else. When the harmless situation happens again, this triggers a fight-or-flight response as if we needed to run from the situation or fight our way out of it. Even the possibility of the feared situation makes us very anxious, constantly alert for real or imagined danger, muscle tensed as if we might need to spring into action at a moment’s notice. The high anxiety makes it easy to remember other anxious situations, but difficult to remember happy events. This focuses our minds on everything negative.
Therapy to overcome phobia is about breaking that link between the harmless situation and the fear response. A variety of techniques can be used to achieve this.
All these techniques could be used even without hypnosis, but hypnosis makes them more powerful. In hypnotic trance you are able to focus more intensely, to control your own emotional and physical reactions, and to fix new ideas into your memory, much easier than in your normal everyday state of mind. Clients learn quite quickly how to turn their emotional reactions up or down, just as easily as turning up the heat of an oven or changing gears in a car.
I normally begin with some simple hypnotic exercises to show my clients that hypnosis is a pleasant, interesting and non-threatening experience. These exercises also prove to the client that they can really be hypnotised. By this method their anxiety levels are already much reduced before we even start the main therapy techniques. At each stage the client is normally able to go deeper into trance as they discover what a safe and pleasant experience it is.
I then move on to specific techniques.
“Parts Therapy” involves contacting the powerful part of the mind which has the job of keeping you safe, and telling it to use a wider range of methods to keep you safe, and to distinguish between what is really dangerous and what is actually harmless.
The “Arrow Technique” is a method of gaining control over the experience of fear, showing you that you can turn it up and down at will.
The “Reflective Time Protocol” is a method for going back to the original trigger of the phobia in a non-traumatic way. This is not the same as regression, because you will see the event from an adult point of view, not as a frightened child you were back then. This has a powerful effect on the part of us which still reacts as a child does, which is sometimes called the “Inner Child.”
The “Rewind Technique” is a method for experiencing the feared situation in a detached and non-traumatic way, breaking the link between the situation and the fight-or-flight response.
These are the main techniques I use. Depending on the specific client I may use all of them on the first session which is about 90 minutes, or I may save some for later sessions so the client doesn’t feel rushed or overwhelmed. Therapy should always be a pleasant experience.
Many of my clients have already had other therapies such as counselling or CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or even hypnosis. I once saw a client who had had more than twenty sessions of therapy with another practitioner with no improvement (but great expense). With my help this client overcame their phobia in just three sessions.