Phobia & Fear Treatment
I have had the pleasure of successfully helping people overcome their fears and phobias for the past thirty-five years. Below, you can find useful information about phobias and how I work to help my clients and patients overcome their fears and eliminate their phobias.
Some phobias are truly debilitating. Examples include: agoraphobia, claustrophobia, and germaphobia. Even a fear of dogs can keep a person locked up in their home, or create a constant state of anxiety when a person is out in public places. Many people live a life of relative solitude, simply because they are not aware of , or afraid of getting the help they need to overcome their phobia.
Less debilitating phobias, still restrict a person’s movement, and thereby restrict professional and social opportunities. Examples include: fear of driving, flying, new places, and mazeophobia – the fear of being lost. Many people do not realize that their fear experience is a psychological disorder that can be cured.
Many individuals and families are significantly restricted in enjoying the pleasures of life and normal healthy life-cycle experiences, as well as deeply meaningful desires and goals. Some women give up the opportunity of having children because they are phobic of pregnancy or childbirth. A man may give up his professional goals and dreams because he has a phobia of failure or rejection.
Even when the phobia is not debilitating, it can interfere with the normal flow and function of personal, social and familial activities. For example, a family may not be able to go on a special vacation because one of the family members has a fear of flying or water.
Usually a person knows on a conscious level if s/he has fears or phobias and if they are negatively affecting his/hers life – either on a day to day basis, or in relationship to specific events, experiences, or triggers.
Individuals have very different interpretations of their experiences of being uncomfortable, afraid, or phobic. Most people’s feelings of discomfort are considered by them to simply be part of their nature or something normal – but certainly not a disorder, that can be corrected. Many people live with and suffer from phobias without even recognizing that there is something wrong.
Everyone has particular things they are afraid of and many of us are phobic about something. There is no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed. It is a good thing to get help and release ourselves from the discomfort and restrictions.
It is important to realize that even serious phobias that have festered around for many years can be solved. It is usually a matter of understanding the dynamics that create such problems, and utilizing the appropriate techniques needed to solve them.
How do fears and phobias happen?
There are many sources of fears and phobias. Briefly most fears and phobias either come from traumatic experiences or are learned from others. Sometimes they can be caused by how we relate to our thought or feelings, or from something that we learned. Sometimes they are acquired as the result of a response or reaction to a painful event or negative pattern. Sometimes a person can develop a phobia as an unconscious defense mechanism, – an attempt to protect oneself from the possibility of re-experiencing a traumatic event.
A traumatic event can often cause a fear or phobia. Sometimes the patient is consciously aware of the event – in which case it can be directly addressed. However, often the traumatic event may have been repressed from conscious memory.
During a traumatic experience, a person may enter a spontaneous hypnotic state in which a negative response or pattern is learned and imprinted (one trial hypnotic learning).
A person often makes a subconscious decision in that moment of trauma, which can be debilitating for years or even a lifetime. S/he can experience all kinds of limitations of activities and experiences, which in turn have more negative effects, such as low self-esteem, and lack of self-confidence.
Children can also acquire fears and phobias from watching a scary movie, hearing a disturbing story, watching the news, or even from having a nightmare.
It is important to note that children can acquire phobias by observing their parents’ and others’ modeling of their own fears. I present below an interesting case of one of my former patients, who became phobic of roaches due to her grandmother’s fear.
How I work with my clients and patients – The Therapeutic Process
My goal is to help my clients/patients heal from fears and phobias and their consequences as quickly and as comfortably as possible.
I work with my patients as partners. I give home-work, exercises, and also provide phone and other E-support, when necessary or even when requested just to have some extra support and guidance.
My interventions are focused, clear, healing, interactive and caring.
I provide the understanding and skills needed to solve problems and achieve goals. I do my best to provide interventions that are brief, effective, and lasting. I prefer treatment to be intensive and short-term, in order to get the job done efficiently and save my clients time and money.
I create, with the partnership of my patients, a safe, protected, caring and trusting environment in which they can explore their past and present experiences, as well as their thoughts feelings and physiological and behavioral reactions to them.
I often use hypnosis (only when my patient agrees) and self-hypnosis as part of the treatment process. Hypnosis usually quickly and accurately discovers the root cause of the problem, as oftentimes the cause of the problem may have been a traumatic experience (or even a non-traumatic experience) which has been long forgotten or, repressed from consciousness. Usually I use hypnosis together with C.B.T. (cognitive behavioral therapy), self-hypnosis and other therapeutic tools.
With each of my patients I create therapeutic strategies, utilizing a variety of tools and approaches in order to ensure that the treatment is efficient and effective. The process that I describe below which I used to help the above patient (fear of roaches) is one that I often use to help patients overcome their fears and phobias, along with their consequent symptoms.
Discovery of the source of the problem is very important and makes it much easier to eliminate them. The source of fears and phobias, (as well as stress responses, panic attacks, stuttering, etc.) – whether remembered consciously or locked and blocked in subconscious memory for many years, can usually be discovered. Hypnosis is an excellent tool to accomplish this more effectively and quickly.
Once we discover the source of the problem it is significantly easier to solve. Even when a phobia and its consequential symptoms (stuttering, fear of speaking, etc.) is locked in the client/patient’s subconscious for many years, causing a variety of negative consequences, the proper psychological intervention can heal the trauma and eliminate the patient’s difficulties.
Many of the patients who come to work with me have already tried all kinds of treatments that did not work. Many patients come to see me after trying other therapists and therapies. Many have been in therapy for months or even years without significant results. They were not successful either because the source of the problem was not discovered, or because the therapist did not have the right therapeutic tools and understanding of the client’s dynamics.
These patients often feel hopeless, tired and disappointed, and often say hypnosis is the only thing they have not tried yet.
I recommend to all of my clients and patients to not continue in a process with a therapist or doctor that is not working for them, in a relatively short period of treatment. Many people tend to blame themselves for the lack of progress. If you are really motivated to do the therapeutic work, there is rarely a valid reason to not see progress. Find the right therapist and approach for you.
I tell my clients/patients that within two sessions it should be pretty clear if I am the right therapist with the correct approach for them.
When the therapist and the client/patient understand the dynamics that created the problems or symptoms, and know how to utilize the techniques needed to solve them, good results are attainable more quickly.
Please note that traumas like the Holocaust, rape, abduction, extreme violence or abuse, etc. require more time to work on and heal. Yet, even in these situations significant healing and relief from symptoms can be attained.
Age regression and other hypnotic techniques can be used to identify and understand the dynamics of the fear or phobia, as well as to heal the patient of any emotional and psychological pain that may be present. It is also used in the elimination of the presenting problem.
My clients/patients are in a state of self-control and awareness when I work with them with hypnosis.
Although hypnosis is a wonderful therapeutic tool it is certainly not required or obligatory, and phobias can be cured without it.
How I help my patients overcome their phobias when they are caused by a traumatic event
This fascinating process I learned from the work of Milton Erickson, M.D., who is considered by many to be the best hypnotherapist of all time.
I utilize a variety of tools during the therapeutic process. Included may be hypnosis, C.B.T. (cognitive behavioral therapy), N.L.P., gestalt work, desensitization, hypnotic rehearsal, expressive therapy (art/music/movement) and others. (Please see /my-tools-introduction/)
First, I ask my patient for information that is available on a conscious level, to learn about the nature and style of my client, my client’s history, the nature of the problem, and the therapeutic goals.
We discover and review the actual traumatic event and source of the problem, as well as understand its dynamics.
I help the patient identify and learn the skills and understandings that s/he did not have (but needed) at the time of the traumatic event, that could have been used, to prevent or reduce the trauma experience, as well as to cope and respond more healthfully.
I then use hypnosis to bring my client back in time (age regression) to a few days before the traumatic incident, and be there with his/her-self, as the loving helpful big brother/sister. My patient then prepares him/herself at this earlier time for the upcoming event, and teaches what is necessary to have the event be NOT TRAUMATIC.
Then, with proper preparation and rehearsal, my client re-experiences the (formerly traumatic) event utilizing the newly acquired tools and understandings in order to respond to the event in a healthy logical self-supporting, healthy way.
Next, we do hypnotic rehearsal, to decrease the likelihood of having a negative reaction, and increase positive reactions and responses to future challenges. We also implement other helpful therapeutic things, like desensitization, verbal expression, future pacing (N.L.P.) and more – (the explanation for these are too long for this article).
Finally, my client learns how to use self-hypnosis to reinforce the process and to gain self-mastery over eliminating negative psycho-emotional states and behavioral patterns, and learns to create and strengthen positive emotional-states and behaviors.
My clients and patients thereby acquire freedom from fear and increase of self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. They usually overcome their phobia in just a few sessions.
Safety considerations regarding hypnosis
Hypnotherapy and hypnosis are usually very good treatment interventions. However, hypnosis is contraindicated under certain circumstances. For example, hypnosis is usually contraindicated for individuals who suffer from severe psychiatric disorders, such as psychoses and schizophrenia.
A proper evaluation of each patient must be made before hypnosis is used. It is only at the request of the patient and at my evaluation and discretion that hypnosis will be used.
Case examples to help you to understand how I work:
- A woman came to see me with a phobia of roaches that was so extreme, her friends had to go into her apartment each night when she came home for work, to make sure there were none inside.
- A man came to see me who suffered from needle phobia for many years. He needed to have an injection, however, he had a fear of needles – but he had no idea why.
(Detailed case description and explanation appears below)
Please feel welcome to call me if you have any questions.
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