A rational way to deal with irrational fears

For most things in our lives, there is a logical or a rational explanation. But many of us suffer from irrational fears which seem to have no rhyme or reason and can be quite debilitating, leading to anxiety, stress and panic attacks. phobiafear

This can range from a fear of spiders or a fear of flying (which might seem logical to some of us) to a greater fear of sharks than of car accidents. Fear of things that might actually hurt us, like the flu or smoking, is understandable and healthy. It’s the phobia of things like snakes and sharks – that pose virtually no threat at all – that’s more puzzling.

These are phobias and the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) describes phobias as ‘a fear without good reason, or a fear of something that may not happen’.

The NCH also points out that people with phobias often know their response is irrational, which makes it harder to accept. Phobias are far more common than many people realise. It is estimated that more than 11% of the population have some kind of irrational fear.

The NCH has a national directory of hypnotherapists who are highly trained and qualified to deal with many problems, including treatment of fears, phobias, anxiety and stress.

The National Health Service (NHS) says fears become phobias when someone has to change their lifestyle to manage it. It says a phobia is an extreme or irrational fear or dread aroused by a particular object or circumstance, to the point where it severely restricts lifestyle.

Phobics (people with phobias) will go to great lengths to avoid an object or situation that most people consider harmless. Coming into contact, or even the thought of coming into contact, with the object of the phobia makes them panic.

With hypnotherapy, the general solution is to see that phobia in a different context starting from an objective perspective and then begin to build up exposure until the sufferer feels comfortable in that situation.

Using hypnosis, the therapist will be able to do this as unconscious is able to process information more effectively without the interference of the critical mind. This is a known as desensitisation.

Often phobias can be treated in just one session, says the NCH. There is, however, no guarantee as change depends on the individual’s willingness to embrace it.

Most therapists will offer a preliminary expectation of how long treatment may last. Each hypnotherapist may use a slightly different approach to treating phobias depending on whether the client knows when the phobia first started, how they view it and how receptive they are to change.