From the psychological standpoint, phobias and a number of common “anxiety states” fall under the collective umbrella, “anxiety disorders”, conditions characterized by intense and persistent fear of an object or situation. But unlike “anxiety states” (most of which are not associated with a specific cause,) phobias are triggered by specific stimuli, which can be almost anything real or imagined. Among the most common phobias are acrophobia (fear of heights), hematophobia (the fear of blood), paruresis (the fear of urinating in public), andherpetophobia (the fear of snakes), with individual reactions ranging from mildly uncomfortable to abject terror. In severe cases, even seeing a photograph of the object of their fear can trigger uncontrollable hysteria. But no matter the source of fear, phobias rarely go away without professional treatment. The good news, however, is that phobias are among the most easily treatable of all mental disorders, particularly with hypnosis.
Although psychological behavior modification has been the most commonly prescribed treatment for phobias since the 1970s (along with drug therapy utilizing MAO inhibitors) when renowned psychologist Albert Bandura became one of its leading proponents, hypnotherapy has gained considerable popularity in recent years. This is largely due to the fact that unlike psychotherapy (or even other applications of hypnosis) that seeks to modify a patient’s perception, and reaction, to the object of their fear, the initial goal of hypnotherapy is to delve deep into the unconscious mind and uncover the specific event that caused the phobia to develop in the first place. And in cases where the triggering event occurred very early in life or has been repressed for a number of years, hypnosis can be especially effective in bringing that event to the surface where it can be confronted.
By design, hypnosis creates a state of extreme relaxation that allows past traumas to lose much of their fear factor, thus allowing the hypnotherapist to coax them from the unconscious to conscious awareness. And while in this relaxed, trance-like state, individuals are particularly receptive to suggestion, providing the avenue by which to uproot and eliminate the unreasonable fear. Typically, the hypnotherapist helps the sufferer confront their fear (the object or situation) through visualization, guiding them in creating new thoughts and responses regarding that fear. Depending on a number of factors including how long the individual has experienced the phobia, how severely the phobia affects them, the individual’s personality and level of maturity, and how determined the individual is to free themselves from that fear, most phobias can be brought under control with three to four hypnotherapy sessions. More severe cases, perhaps more.