Firstly, it’s useful to define what a phobia actually is … the NHS Choices website defines phobias as ‘an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.” It is more extreme than fear in the normal everyday sense and develops when a person has an exaggerated or irrational perception of danger or threat about a situation or object. So, for example, being a bit wary of spiders isn’t the same as being arachnophobic. Phobias aren’t always entirely irrational – in the sense that some spiders, for example, ARE dangerous and should be avoided. But a phobia will assume that ALL spiders – even a tiny house spider – is a threat.
So what are the 5 most common? (be warned – there are pictures!)
- Arachnophobia – fear of spiders. Arachnophobia is the most common phobia – sometimes even a picture can induce feelings of panic. And lots of people who aren’t phobic as such still avoid spiders if they can. I held a tarantula a few years ago (in a controlled environment with its handler sitting next to me!) …. Funnily enough that doesn’t make getting rid of one in the bathroom any easier!)
- Opidiophobia – fear of snakes. This perhaps has its roots on culture and evolution – many snakes are poisonous so avoiding them was an essential survival tactic. Luckily in the UK, there is less likelihood of encountering one.
- Acrophobia – fear of heights. Skyscraper maintenance wouldn’t be the perfect job for most people!
- Agoraphobia – fear of situations where escape is difficult. This can lead to people avoiding all sorts of different situations – open spaces, crowded places, etc. It can get so severe that some sufferers end up not wanting to leave their homes at all. As such, agoraphobia can be very limiting.
- Cynophobia – fear of dogs. This is something that resonates with me. For as long as I can remember, I was always extremely nervous around dogs … and would take avoiding action whenever I could. Unfortunately I inadvertently passed that fear onto my daughter, who picked up on my reluctance to engage with or even go near a dog. The picture here, however, is of us both with our lovely dog George …. We love him to bits and wouldn’t be without him!
And that’s the great news – you CAN get rid of your phobia!
For help with getting over a phobia or fear, contact me at:
I’m a counsellor and hypnotherapist and probably do an equal amount of both. However, in terms of curiosity, the focus is firmly on the latter. Just what is hypnotherapy? How does it work? What does it feel like? Does it mean that you lose control? (the sub-text of this: Will you make me cluck like a chicken? !!) ….
So, I’m going to try to cover all bases – but please comment at the end if you have unanswered questions and I’ll do my best to get back to you.
- What is hypnotherapy?Hypnotherapy is a type of psychological therapy which utilizes hypnosis. This process alters our state of consciousness in a way that represses the conscious part of the mind while also revealing or stimulating the subconscious part. This part is susceptible to positive suggestion, which can bring about meaningful change to thoughts, feelings and behaviours. A qualified hypnotherapist is able to use suggestion in an appropriate way to facilitate this change.
- How does hypnotherapy feel?Hypnotherapy feels really relaxing. Different people, however, report slightly different sensations – clients have described it as ‘floating in my own head’ for example, ‘drifting’ and so on. Whatever, your experience, it’s comfortable and pleasant! Many people also experience time distortion, where a 40 minute session can seem like 5 or 10.
- Will I fall asleep?The hypnotic trance is not the same as being asleep. However, you will probably feel detached from everyday life, perhaps in a bit of a bubble. When I’m hypnotized, I’ve sometimes felt like I’m in that ‘space’ between waking and sleeping – completely aware of what is going on but reluctant to emerge back into normal life. It’s a lovely, relaxing feeling – you’ll love it!
- Can I be made to do something I don’t want to?You are in control at all times. Stage hypnosis works on the principle that the participants want to engage in extrovert behaviour – you don’t volunteer for a stage show unless you are willing to make a bit of a fool of yourself. In a hypnotherapy session, you cannot be made to do something that you don’t want to. Moreover, the therapeutic relationship is one of trust and you and the therapist will have discussed your goals for treatment in depth.
- Can everyone be hypnotized?Everyone can be hypnotized if they want to be – if you go for treatment, you need to be able to relax into it. Clients are sometimes nervous the first time but a good therapist should explain the process to you so that any fears are allayed.
- What issues can hypnotherapy be used for?Hypnotherapy is a fantastic type of therapy for lots of different issues including anxiety and stress-related issues, phobias, weight loss, stopping smoking, habit-type behaviours and even pain management. I treat lots of people for anxiety with hypnotherapy and get great results.
- How many sessions of hypnotherapy will I need?This is a really difficult question to answer because everyone is different. So, for example, for a habit like nail biting, one person may stop after 1 session while others may take 3. For deep-seated issues such as anxiety, I usually think that 4 is the magic number but again it’s personal and you need to talk to your therapist about it.
- How successful is hypnotherapy as a treatment?It’s very successful – I see the positive effects of hypnotherapy regularly and it’s amazing to see people who now feel liberated as a result of treatment. Of course, it’s not a ‘miracle cure’ and you need to work with it – just like any other form of treatment.
There are probably loads more questions that I could cover! If you have a specific one that you would like me to answer, please comment and leave your email address and I’ll get back to you.
It’s that time of year – almost British Summer Time, the occasional ray of sun peeking out from behind the gloom and of course, holiday adverts on the telly! For lots of people, the thought of that week in Spain signifies a bit of excitement, enough to keep them going through the unpredictability of Spring weather in the UK. But for others, it can mean anything from a surge of anxiety to the resignation of yet another holiday in Cornwall. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cornwall … but it’s nice to think that you can dance the tango in Buenos Aires too if you want to!
Flying really is a big issue for many people. It can prey on our vulnerability – anxieties and fears about death, natural disaster, and nowadays, even terrorism … it’s not surprising that it’s one of the most common phobias. And it’s multi-faceted, with elements of claustrophobia, vertigo and agoraphobia – it really is a catch-all phobia!
Sufferers describe the feeling of terror as ‘paralysing’ …. Fear of the process of flying and also anxiety that the fear will take over and cause public loss of control.
So what can you do to help yourself?
- Tell your travel companions if they don’t already know … they will want to support you. It also means that, if you have a panic attack, you can prep them as to the best things they can do to calm you down and you won’t feel so embarrassed about it.
- Practice ‘grounding yourself’ – noticing 5 things that you can see, hear, touch, etc in your environment. This can help you if you’re feeling anxious or panicky but focusing on your surroundings can also help you to divert your attention so that you remain calm in the first place.
- In the same way, engage with those around you – have a chat to your friends and family, acknowledge your anxiety but don’t focus on it, instead re-direct your attentions into something else – activities such as puzzles, reading etc will help you to take your mind off your fears.
- Try deep breathing, exhaling slowly in a controlled way. A good way to practice this is with some bubble mixture. To be able to blow big bubbles, you need to blow out slowly and gently. I often use bubble mixture to enable young clients to practice their calm breathing but adults can do it too. It’s not silly if it helps and no one sees you practicing at home!
- Just reciting statistics to someone to ‘prove’ that flying is safe just doesn’t work – if it did, then no one would be fearful of flying. Phobias just don’t work like that. Hypnotherapy, however, is a fantastic way to overcome fear of flying. A therapist will take you through every element of the journey (from booking the holiday to landing!), replacing the fear with feelings of relaxation. It really does work!
In the words of a recent client:
“I can’t thank Judith enough. Every year, we book a holiday because I don’t want to let the family down. I worry for months before we go and while we’re there, I worry about the journey home! This year, I’m looking forward to it. I’m feeling excited about the whole thing and we’re even planning an extra weekend away. I’m no longer limited by my fear and it feels liberating! Thank you”
If you’d like hypnotherapy for your phobia, please contact me at
www.bluebell-therapy.co.uk or call 07599136677.
Can you really stop smoking using Hypnosis?
The short answer is YES … and, in fact, you are 10 times more likely to give up if you use hypnosis to help you! And stopping smoking is a fantastic idea – smoking increases your risk of developing a wide range of serious health problems and illnesses and is considered to be the greatest single cause of premature death in the UK.
Smoking facts and figures:
- There are around 10 million adults who smoke cigarettes in the UK.
- About 100,000 people in Britain die every year from smoking-related illnesses.
- Roughly half of all smokers die prematurely due to smoking-related diseases.
- The life expectancy of a smoker is about 10 years less than that of a non-smoker.
- In the UK, only about half of long-term smokers live past the age of 70.
- Around 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital every year because of passive smoking-related illnesses. Babies in smoking households are also more vulnerable to dying from cot death.
- Smoking related illnesses include: lung cancer, heart disease, other cancers including mouth, throat, blood, cervix and pancreatic cancer, infertility problems and gum disease.
Giving up really is a no brainer!
When will you start to feel the benefits of giving up?
The answer is … almost immediately! Even after only 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drops back to normal.
How does hypnosis help?
Hypnotherapy is a really good way of re-programming habit-type behaviour because it speaks to your sub-conscious – and ‘unpicks’ the associations that smoking has for you. These associations and connections are different for different people – personalised sessions get to the root of what smoking means to you … and replaces that with new healthier connections.
It is important that you really want to stop for yourself, however. It is difficult to stay motivated if you are doing it simply to placate someone else.
The ultimate aim is to empower people to take control and develop new waysof thinking that promote a healthier lifestyle. The idea behind STOPTOBER is that if you give up for 28 days, you’re 5 times as likely to give up for good! With hypnotherapy, you’re increasingly those odds significantly!
Give it a go. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Best of luck!
Hello! As I was thinking about what I would like to talk about in my very first blog, I felt slightly anxious … and that led me to my answer! Of course, it’s completely natural to feel a surge of nervous, excited anxiety when starting something new. It can propel you on to achieving your best, to reach new heights. Anxiety can also warn you of impending danger … it can be a helpful emotion that we need to survive. Unfortunately, though, anxiety is a huge issue in many people’s lives – from school children to company directors. Many of the clients that I see, whether for hypnotherapy or counselling, come to me because they are struggling to control their anxiety. This is sometimes related to a very specific event in their life but, more often, is simply ‘everyday anxiety’ – the stresses of work, family and relationships – those things that, in an ideal world, should be a source of enjoyment and fulfilment.
So what can we do to help to reduce anxiety levels, to make life easier and ultimately more satisfying? Obviously if your anxiety is severe or debilitating, you may need to see your doctor or talk things through with a counsellor. There are several strategies that we can all do for ourselves as well, however, and these can really help us to help manage difficult emotions and to relax more.
- Take deep breaths – even this simple step can help because deep, diaphragmatic breathing activates your body’s relaxation response. Practice breathing in through your nose and out slowly through your mouth, as if you were blowing a huge bubble … too fast and the bubble will burst! Give it a go and practice it so you are ready to put into action when you need to calm down.
- Accept that you’re anxious – and that anxiety is a natural emotion that you can manage. Like any other strong emotion, it tends to peak and then subside. You are learning to ride that wave, breathing deeply, until it subsides. Learn to surf, not become submerged!
- Question your thoughts – when people are anxious, they tend to be bombarded by all sorts of negative or outlandish ideas. The cold that you have may suddenly seem life-threatening, the speech you need to give may seem like an impossibly difficult challenge. Chances are, you are getting things out of proportion. Once you start to question whether your thoughts are based in reality or not, you begin to realise that some of your feelings are based on negative opinion rather than truth … and you can begin to start controlling your responses and emotions.
- Use positive self-talk – “This anxiety feels bad right now but it will pass and I can use strategies to control it”.
- Use calming visualisation techniques – find out about how meditation and hypnotherapy can help you. Self-hypnosis is also a great way to deal with stress and anxiety and can be learned with practice.
- Focus on the here and now – anxiety is often based on ‘what ifs’ but if you learn to enjoy the moment, the future seems so less threatening a place.
- Focus on enjoyable, meaningful activities – anxiety feeds on obsession; you may feel anxious but that doesn’t need to prevent you from doing other things. And obsessing about something doesn’t actually achieve anything other than making you feel bad.