Specific Phobias and Hypnosis
According to the DSM-5, a specific phobia is an intense and unreasonable fear of a specific activity, object, or situation. Phobias fall under the heading of anxiety disorders and are the most common type.
The National Institute of Mental Health has established that 18% of the population of the United States suffers from a specific phobia and that an approximate total of 19.2 million Americans per year are presenting with this disorder.
This anxiety disorder can have debilitating effects and can interfere with work, school, social interactions, and personal relationships. Specific phobias are most commonly associated with a negative event in the past that has been internalized. The fear, brought about by specific triggers, operates as a survival mechanism.
Hypnosis is among the recognized alternative and complementary forms of practice listed by the National Institute of Mental Health. Qualified hypnotherapists can provide effective treatment for specific phobias and other anxiety disorders. There are different types of treatments available and they vary by therapist. One treatment used is the rewind technique.
This technique, often used with calming anxiety, relaxes a person in a way that allows the therapist to access material related to the phobia and access associated triggers. In turn, this helps to build a framework of suggestion-based responses to overcome the debilitating fear. Each situation is obviously different and a person needs to be open to the hypnotic experience for maximum results to be achieved.
Another technique, which has been highly successful, is using hypnosis to ease the person into a heightened state of awareness (hypnotic trance) that allows the unconscious to be unlocked and through the process of suggestion and for the purpose of guidance, self-calming mantras can be taught. In this way, the person is literally taught relaxation skills around triggers the triggers that may cause a phobic response.
What I try to explain to my Chicago clients is that a person can have a phobia involving almost anything. Many people do not realize that there is a considerable number of people who are extremely fearful of clowns, balloons, feathers and even puppies.
Regardless of the specific phobia, hypnosis can be used as adjunct to therapy as a way of helping someone work through their unique fears with the ultimate goal of creating positive change. This transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Be sure to read this basic FAQ on hypnosis to learn more.
Suggestions under hypnosis may include bodily responses to triggers such as slow, deep breathing, a change in focus, replacing the fear with a different response, and ultimately help the individual come to terms with a past traumatic event, learn to desensitize themselves to the triggers that exploit their fears, and ameliorate the phobia all together.
Hypnosis offers a two-fold, or compound, approach; helping people to delve into the here and now as guiding them, and their responses to the world around them, toward a healthier, happier future.
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National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Bethesda, Maryland. NCAMM.nih.org. Retrieved 15 June, 2014.
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