A phobia is a feeling of fear, anxiety or panic that is triggered off by something in your environment. Biologically speaking, fear is supposed to protect us by making sure we remove ourselves from dangerous situations. However, when we have a phobia this mechanism is over-sensitive. We feel an overwhelming need to remove ourselves from the object of our fears, even if we know logically there is little or no danger attached.
This is quite similar to what I've said about anxiety on another part of this site. The difference is that anxiety can feel generalised and free-floating, but phobias are attached to a specific thing or situation.
Phobias can attach themselves to just about anything. The most common are said to be fear of spiders (Arachnophobia), fear of snakes (Ophidiophobia), fear of heights (Acrophobia), fear of situations in which escape is difficult (Agoraphobia), fear of dogs (Cynophobia), fear of birds (ornithophobia), fear of thunder and lightning (Astraphobia), fear of injections (Trypanophobia), social phobias (e.g. fear of public speaking), fear of flying (Pteromerhanophobia) and fear of germs or dirt (Mysophobia). More unusual phobias include fears of clowns (Coulrophobia), books (Bibliophobia), or knives and sharp objects (Aichmophobia).
It can be difficult to live with phobias, especially the more unusual ones; other people may not understand and may ridicule your fears. You may even feel yourself that you are 'over-reacting' or 'being silly'. But this isn't true. If you could just 'snap out of it' you would. Phobias are very real and can be very unpleasant; they make you feel out of control and some have far-reaching consequences. Many affect your life on a regular, or even daily, basis.
The goal of therapy is to correct the oversensitivity in your mind. This doesn't mean making you dangerously overconfident - for example, if you have dromophobia (fear of crossing roads) you're going to want to hang onto a reasonable level of caution around traffic. It does mean setting you free from a fear that's restricting your enjoyment of life.
A course of hypnotherapy might involve learning coping strategies to control the symptoms of your phobia, and/or looking at why your phobia developed in the first place. If your phobia is connected with a specific event (for example your fear of dogs started when you were bitten by one) I may suggest we use some EMDR as well as hypnosis. You can find out more about EMDR here.
Everyone is different and every phobia is different too, so the right balance between these approaches is decided at your therapy sessions. You'll need to commit to change and to put in some work between sessions and that can sound scary. But remember that in the long term it can be better to learn to control your phobia than to live with it controlling you.
Phobias can sometimes be connected to conditions that require treatment from your GP; if you think this might apply to you it's wise to start there. Otherwise (or afterwards) contact me.
The Loft Complementary Therapies Normanton, West Yorkshire, WF6 2DB
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