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  • Lovedeep Paterson

Is a phobia stopping you from living your life to the full?

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

A Phobia is defined as an irrational fear of something. As it stems from our subconscious, it can be treated. Because a phobia can develop around any object or situation it would be impossible to list them all. However, they can be split into five groups. Simple phobias are about one thing, for example, a fear of spiders or snakes. They often develop in childhood or adolescence. Complex phobias are fears of a number of things, for example, the fear of open spaces. They are more disruptive to a person’s life. Social phobias are a fear of what may occur when in a social situation. Panic attacks can be very disruptive to a person’s life. If they suffer from one attack, it produces the fear that they will have another. This increased anxiety can cause physical problems. Agraphobia is a fear of travelling away from your home. This may result in a client in never leaving the house at all. Phobias are normally caused by severe stress, a series of experiences occurring over a period of years, a product of a fear of a fear, are transmitted to you by another person or the result of a severe past trauma.


When dealing with phobias, the cause can be recent or from an event in their childhood. The event would have caused the client anxiety at the time, the client did not deal with the anxiety at the time and this anxiety increased and the client started to change their lifestyle with avoidance tactics. It is essential that the ISE (Initial Sensitising Event) is identified for the treatment to be effective. Although it should be noted that a phobia can also be a learnt behaviour rather than as a result of a personal experience. To treat phobias the solution is to see that phobia in a different context starting from an objective perspective and then gradually building up exposure from a minimal to comfortable level.

Using hypnosis this can be done rapidly as the unconscious is able to process information more effectively without the interference of the critical mind. This is known as desensitisation.


Generally, screeds that deal with the treatment of fears will have the client use their imaginations about the situation that makes them fearful but have them feel a sense of control. The screed should try to put the fear into perspective. Depending on the severity of the phobia, a metaphor that detaches the client from dealing with the issue can be helpful. For example, asking the client to imagine a cinema screen and asking them to imagine watching the situation from the projector room is a non-threatening way of exposing the client to a phobia and allowing therapy to take place. A hypnotherapist must not be judgemental of a client while treating them – though the fear may seem irrational, to the client it is very real.

It is interesting to note that phobic patients have been shown to be, on average, more hypnotisable than others. The essence of the phobic experience is not unlike that of the event of hypnosis, and the phobic experience might be a spontaneously occurring panic-filled trance-like or dissociative experience. Hypnotherapy assists the patient to learn more about his dissociative capacity and to learn to control it.


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