Do You Have a Phobia?
Lots of people will say they have a 'phobia' of spiders, snakes, heights or public speaking - but what they really mean is they have a healthy respect for them. A phobia is different. A phobia of snakes, for example, can mean that when you enter an office building in the middle of the city, you look around the floor for anything snakelike... even while part of you is busily telling yourself that you're being stupid and that there's no snake. It's tough having a phobia.
For almost a century, we've known how to get rid of phobias - or at least, we've known one way. It's known as exposure therapy and it works through gradual, repeated exposure to the source of your specific phobia and the related thoughts, images and sensations.
Now, new research has confirmed why exposure therapy works, showing that the extinction of fear depends on reactivating the brain cells that encode it: by activating the brain cells involved in the fear, they enter a brief period of instability, known as reconsolidation. In other words, as explained here, the act of recollection creates a window of time in which memories can be updated, and fears unlearned.
The trouble with exposure therapy, or 'flooding' as it used to be known, is that it requires the person experiencing the phobia to confront their fear head on. In fact, flooding used to be pretty brutal, making the person realise that they weren't going to die from their fear by experiencing it at its fullest.
This is where hypnosis can help, since an image of the feared object can be safely introduced in imagination only, and while present, the fear can be amended and indeed extinguished. It's the same approach as exposure, but done using the imagination. The results can be dramatic - fast and effective. If you have a phobia you'd like to work on, contact us for a chat.
P.S. Notice we haven't included an image? I'm sure you can work out why...