When considering treatment for phobias – it may be spiders or snakes or worms. For others it may be fear of crowds, fear of heights, fear of driving or of motorways or fear of flying or fear of exams. It could be shopping in supermarkets or a host of situations or experiences that literally send the sufferer into terror.
Phobias and fears are extremely common. In fact 11% of us will experience one at some time in our life and are twice as common in women as they are in men.
People can be phobic of buses if they experienced or witnessed a trauma on one or of a certain food if they once almost choked on it. In fact there are thousands of ways whereby a response can develop. Children can learn a response from their parents or carers. It is not even necessary to witness the original cause of the fear.
The good news is that in most cases, treatment for phobias is typically quick and easy. And for those phobias which are a little more complex, there is still a high chance of a full recovery.
For example, my experience is that Vomit fears can take a little longer – as smell is the most primitive and directly received of the senses. Smell sensations go direct to the Amygdale, and not via the Thalamus (which is the case for the other senses).
Trance work is a critical part of relief here and is normally straightforward. The de-traumatising is normally of a very clear experience that is still active in the limbic system. Nevertheless, occasionally what is needed may be called virtual REWIND. In this case what is confronted in a state of deep relaxation is not a real memory but a fear that seems real enough but has arisen from a projection that then gets out of control.
Building a better relationship with anxiety is not normally so important for this kind of relief as the anxiety is specific and self contained. There are exceptions – for example if more than one phobic reaction has developed. This certainly does occur from time to time – but normally suggests that a more generalised anxiety is taking hold.
New thinking, relaxation help and visualisations, is not normally a critical step – other than for detailed trance rehearsal work. In these cases, the client is invited to see him/herself doing well in the previously phobic situation (e.g going to the dentist).
Action to get needs met is rarely necessary as most phobic clients are living most of their life in reasonable balance and for sure, once the phobia is gone then life returns to normal quickly.
The exception is agoraphobia where the consequences will have evolved to become more serious. Work and social interaction will be failing and this will feed the phobic fear of leaving home. The full range of Skilful Counselling will be required to facilitate recovery.