Hypnosis has been shown to be an effective treatment for many individuals with phobias. A significant percentage of the population suffers from a phobia of one type or another. For some individuals it can be mildly distressing but manageable.  For others it can be seriously debilitating. A phobia is an irrational fear of a particular stimulus. This stimulus can be a situation, a thing, or an activity.  People with phobias will either go to great lengths to avoid whatever it is they fear, or they will tolerate it with considerable anxiety. For some people, a phobia can trigger panic attacks. In severe cases the phobia can end up literally controlling a person’s life.

Hypnotherapy works by accessing the underlying cause of the phobia and eliminating the person’s conditioned response to the stimulus. When hypnosis is used to treat a phobia, the initial goal of the hypnotherapist is to discover the initial event from which the phobia developed. The cause is often a traumatic event which occurred at an earlier time in the person’s life. Often the phobic individual does not remember this event. It may be a memory which has been repressed for many years. Repression is a protective mechanism our mind utilizes by keeping memory of the trauma out of our conscious mind until we are ready and able to deal with it.

In order to access this memory, the individual will first need to be in an extremely relaxed state. The hypnotherapist will use techniques in order to help the person become very relaxed and focused. This state of heightened relaxation and focus is referred to as the hypnotic trance. It is during this state that the unconscious can be accessed. While in this trance state a person is very receptive to suggestion, which is what opens the door to bringing about the desired change.

Also, it is during this trance state that unconscious memories can be unlocked and brought to conscious awareness. The hypnotherapist does this by taking the person back to the place and time where the distressing event occurred. Addressing this old memory consciously will enable the individual to better understand it as well as begin to see it in a way which is no longer threatening. When this is achieved, the phobia will generally disappear.

This process is referred to as hypnotic regression. While it can be very effective it can also be problematic. There is a lot of controversy around this technique because if not done correctly or ethically, false memories can also be created. This has led to many legal issues when hypnosis is used with witnesses or defendants in law suits and there is a question of false memories due to hypnosis.

In many cases, however, this is not an issue and the phobic response can be dealt with very effectively using hypnosis. The hypnotherapist can help the individual visualize himself facing the feared object or situation without experiencing any anxiety. The hypnotherapist can guide the person in creating new thoughts and responses regarding whatever it is he previously feared.

The number of hypnosis sessions required for effectively dealing with phobias varies, and depends on several factors. These factors include how long the person has had the phobia, how severely the phobia affects him, the person’s maturity, his personality structure, and how determined he is to be free from the phobia. In general, it will take approximately three or four hypnotherapy sessions.  However, in severe cases it can take more.
If you suffer from a phobia it is definitely worth considering hypnosis as a means of treatment. While there are other methods which may also be effective, hypnosis may help you overcome the phobia, and in some cases even alleviate it altogether. However, if you do pursue hypnosis as a means of treatment, be sure that you work with a person is who has the appropriate training and experience.  Also, be sure that you feel comfortable working with this person as trust is an essential element in any therapeutic relationship.


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